The practice of yoga is to create a connection between the body and mind. Its goal is to use the breath and body to create an awareness of ourselves as individual beings closely connected to all other living beings. With that knowledge, yoga can help one live in peace, good health and harmony with all other beings.
Sounds powerful, right?
Yoga is a way of life, not just a workout.
Believe it or not, yoga is much more than just the physical poses (Asanas) that you practice at your local gym or yoga studio. There are seven other limbs that you can practice without breaking a sweat.
The foundations of yoga philosophy were written in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD. The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is the eight-limbed path. Because we are all uniquely individual, a person can focus on different limbs, one at a time (in any order), as they start to understand each one.
Eight-Limbed Path of Yoga
Yama Ethical standards for how you treat others, this is also known as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There are five Yama’s:
Ahimsa – Non Violence Practice non-harming on all beings. A fun one to practice this one with is bugs. The less you swat at them, the less they will bother you. Try it.
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Non-Stealing This can be applied for physical and non physical belongings, such as time. Respect people’s time, try not to be late to commitments or take up someone’s time when others are vying for it as well.
Brahmacharya – Self-Restraint Prevent yourself from being over indulgent, or over sensual. Includes sexual activities, food, smells, touch, etc.
Aparighara - Noncovetousness Also known as, don’t envy your neighbor’s belongings. Take only what is necessary, don’t hoard or become greedy.
Niyama Personal observances, self-discipline. As Yamas guide us on how to treat others, there are five Niyamas of how to treat oneself:
Saucha – Cleanliness Practice a regular personal hygiene routine, keep your house tidy, clean up after yourself in public places, etc.
Samtosa – Contentment Feeling of being content with what we have.
Tapas – Heat This was described as the heat we feel when we are experiencing personal growth or change.
Svadhaya – Self Study Be present and notice what makes you react to situations in an agitated manner. Reflect on it and use that self-study to help yourself react in a calmer manner the next time a similar situation arises.
Isvara pranidhana – Surrender to God Whoever your God is, let them take care of the rest when you have tried your best. Sometimes things go wrong and there is nothing you can do anymore to help the situation. Have faith.
Asanas Body postures
Pranayama Breathing exercises, and control of prana (life force)
Pratyahara Control of the senses
Dharana Cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana Devotion, Meditation on the Divine/God
Samadhi Union with the Divine/God
I think the Yamas and Niyamas would be a beautiful DIY project to hang them up as artwork in your home, don’t you? Maybe I should check out if someone beat me to it… Pinterest, here I come!