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Living a Yogic Life

I recently received a beautiful gift of the Daily Greatness Yoga Journal. It’s a beautiful book (I have trouble writing in any book and especially one that’s so pretty so I need to work up to it lol). At the very front it ask you to make a commitment to a yoga lifestyle. You’re likely thinking ‘easy peasy- you’re a yoga teacher’ but I hesitated. To me, a yoga lifestyle is an enormous undertaking. To live it every day isn’t easy.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

I know a lot of people have heard of the 8 limbs of yoga. I’ll add links to the limbs as I’ve written about them before in a deeper way, however living them all every day isn’t easy. It’s not for the feint of heart as they say. The practice of yoga asana – the poses that are seen in classes – is such a small piece of the yoga puzzle; the ancient teachings that guide us to enlightenment. Doing yoga and teaching yoga classes in the way done here in the western world just doesn’t cut it when considering a yoga lifestyle.

So what does cut it? Following, to the best of our abilities while knowing we won’t achieve at all times, all 8 limbs of yoga, along with their sub parts. This is essentially the way to delve into a moral, ethical life using self-discipline as well. The 8 Limbs as laid out by Patanjali, consist of:

  • Yama: This is the ethical standards that we live by. It’s essentially how we conduct ourselves on a day to day basis. Think “do unto others as you have have them do unto you”. There are 5 parts to the Yamas. Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing) Bramhacharya (abstaining).
  • Niyama: This is the restraints or self-discipline associated with yoga. This too has parts: Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (study of scripture and self), Isvara Pranidhana (surrender).
  • Asana is, again, the postures, the poses that we see in the usual classes.
  • Pranayama: This is breath control and mastering the breath to control emotions and mind.
  • Pratyahara is withdrawal of senses. It’s going inward to release the outside environment – meaning outside the mind. Its to detach from all external forces, including one’s own body.
  • Dharana is concentration. This is to master to mind itself. It’s to slow the mind to the point of a single mental object, sound or energetic centre in the body.
  • Dhyana is uninterrupted flow of concentration. It’s to hold that one point as described above in meditation. To build mental strength and stamina to keep this meditation up for longer and longer periods.
  • The 8th limb is Samadhi, which I actually wrote about in my last post. It is enlightenment.

This is not an easy path to follow. It’s riddled with downfalls and self-doubt and opportunities to fail. That said, it’s also a very valuable path that has been laid out to help us achieve enlightenment – the end goal, the goal of all other goals. It’s well worth trying and to incorporate into your lifestyle. So why did I hesitate? Because I momentarily forgot that I don’t need to be perfect; I simply need to aim myself in the direction and use loving-kindness and compassion for self when I fall off the path.

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