For most people yoga starts as a simple physical practice on the mat, and for some that is all it will ever be. But for many it becomes a way of life and an answer to many prayers. The 8 limbs of Yoga, as expressed in the Yoga Sutras of Sri Panatnjali, were laid out as the foundation for living a spiritual life. They are simply a way to deepen your awareness that is created on the mat and integrate it into every aspect of your life raising your conciousness and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself.
You were created to be happy, to be joyful and to be divine love. But the truth is that we live in a world that is glorified by being overly busy, possessing too much STUFF and we are pulled in way too many directions. As a result, too many people do not even know who they really are. They are so busy doing, doing, doing that at the end of the day there is no time or energy left for self reflection and discovery. Yoga can solve this dilemma by creating focus, purpose, calm, and good energy in your life.
The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are as Follows:
1. Yamas: eithical standards how we conduct ourselves in life. There are five Yamas.
I will break each Yama down in more detail on our Yoga Fit Boutique members only page on the website. You can become a member for free simply by signing up for our newsletter using the form in the side column of this blog on desktop, or at the bottom if you are on a mobile device (member benefits include early access to articles, new yoga classes, workshops, retreats and specials).
a. Ahimsa: non violence
b. Satya: truthfulness
c. Asteya: nonstealing, non hoarding
d. Brahmacharya: moderation
e. Aparigraha: Non covetousness
2. Niyamas: self discipline or spiritual observances.
a. Saucha: cleanliness
b. Santosha: contentment
c. Tapas: fiery heat
d. Svaydhyaya: self study
e. Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God
3. Asana: The physical practice of the postures (yoga poses) on the mat.
4. Pranayama: The practice of breath control. There are many types, but this is the understanding that your breath is your life force.
5. Pratyhara: Withdrawl from sensories, or the ability to step out of the body and mind and simply observe free from judgment.
6. Dharana: Concentration on a single object.
7. Dhyana: Meditation, quieting the mind, letting go.
8. Samadhi: Ultimate enlightenment or connection with the universe and God.
You can imagine how using these basic techniques can improve the quality of your life. Again, take it gradually and use what works for you. My personal experience is that the longer I practice, the more I begin to truly embrace each of these qualities. I have become far less reactive to conflict, I am much more confident in my decisions, I do not live in fear and I do not want as much of the clutter in my life that I once tolerated in my younger years. Even for me, it is a process and it will continue. WE can always grow and get better. That is what "the practice" is all about.... It is a journey! So, trust the process, let go of all the worry and drama, and live each day of your life with divine love the way you were intended to live. You will soon see dramatic affects.
PS - Register for my next 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training Program, which begins October 28th. This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, plus so much more whether you choose to instruct or just deepen your own understanding and practice.