Wisdom in Action

The Yoga Armor:

Applying the Teaching of Yoga and Vedanta in Daily Life

by Joshua McDaniel

For one new to the spiritual path, comprehending and practicing the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta in daily life can be very difficult. Animalistic and worldly samskaras can obstruct, for example, adopting the Yamas and Niyamas or obtaining the four qualifications of the spiritual aspirant. Simple purificatory practices while tending to our everyday tasks are needed, so we can constantly check if we are fixed in awareness of our Divine Nature. If we are the Self, we must get the self, mind, etc., to start behaving like it. Then, a good exercise to try is the donning and retention of the “yoga armor.”  The concept is to begin each day by putting on the yoga armor via fixing the mind in a state of peace and equanimity and telling yourself you are the Atman. Next, as the day moves forward, we retain this armor by being in a state of non-reaction at all times, regardless of what events transpire. As Krishna told Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita 2.38, “Treating alike pain and pleasure, gain and loss, victory and defeat, engage yourself in battle. Thus you will incur no sin.”


Later, I looked at some examples to evaluate whether my yoga armor was well retained or not. Suppose I am driving to work in a safe manner, and another driver, for whatever reason, suddenly cuts me off and honks in a fit of road rage. If I react by screaming insults and giving the other driver the middle finger, I’ve given up my yoga armor. If I observe the situation, and let the driver go without reaction or retaliation, I’ve retained the yoga armor. For a second example, suppose you are a teacher and have students spreading various opinions around campus about you. Some say you are a great instructor, and others say you are terrible, unfair, and should be fired immediately. Retaining his armor, the yogi’s mind undergoes absolutely no mental fluctuation and remains fixed in the Truth upon hearing of the students’ gossip. The yogi simply observes and moves on without favoring “good” students or having grudges against the “bad” students. Paraphrasing a fellow devoteefrom Portland, “the UPS package containing opinions, good or bad, gets refused at the door and returned to the sender.


In the above examples, the non-reaction on the part of the aspirant can be evidence of so many teachings taking hold. In the former example, a few are: discrimination between the unreal and real; detachment from the unreal; nonviolence; and contentment. In the other example renunciation, purity, and service of God in all beings can be seen.


So we must don our yoga armor everyday and retain it throughout the waking state. In this way we can live in the world and yet keep our minds fixed on the Divine Reality, leading towards peace and liberation.