My name is Abby.
For my first Blog I first need to set the foundation of what I refer to as yoga.
Yoga literally means “to yoke” or to join together. This is often called the union of the body & mind. Some definitions if you look further will include spirit into the mind-body union. The term Yoga is often referred to as Asana, or the physical practice. I feel its necesary to convey my definition now so in the future, it is simple to follow my thoughts if you care to. Note: These are my personal definitions of the 8 Limbs open for interpretation or comments. After all, I’m flexible and open. Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts. I hope that time adds some quality and love into your life.
No one can define yoga for you. It actually changes from time to time. I feel comfortable sharing my definition of yoga with you because of my experience. There are 8 limbs of yoga from where I’m looking. A very wise man name Patanjali shares the Limbs with us first in the Yoga Sutras. If you overlook one, it becomes one of those words with a red line under it in an email. You try to over look it and ignore it, but before something is complete you have to go spellcheck and change the word. Then you can look at the email totally with contentment.
The First Limb. YAMAS
Yamas are the moral precepts. They are sometimes summed up by the golden rule; Doing onto others what you would like done to you. I believe we naturally want to do what is right. Circumstances change like the weather that make these moral codes difficult to adhere by. Luckily, they like asana are a practice.
1: Ahimsa: Nonviolence against all living beings, including such a beautiful person as yourself.
2: Satya: truthfulness in speech and action. “According to the testimony of the inner faculties and senses , to show things how they are with the aim of doing good , in friendly words and with out decite, is truth.” Danielou 19)
3: Asteya: nonstealing. Asteya and Satya (truthfulness) are connected clearly by speaking negative of someone. You steal their reputation. You can also steal time and attention of others. Or take more than you need.
4: Brahmacharya: continence or self restraint of one’s impure thoughts and urges.
5: Aparigraha: noncovetousness- I have found from observing my own thoughts and actions. I always want what I can’t have. But when I get what I wanted and once I have it I don’t want it anymore. If you can observe this in yourself, it is easier to accept things the way they are, without changing or manipulating people and situations.
Niyamas: The second Limb
Niyamas are the inner discipline and how we take care of ourselves. These are sometimes called observances. They are the observances of the afflictions of the mind.
1: Shauca: Purity is achieved through the practice of the five yamas. By practicing the Yamas one becomes clear in the mind. By practicing Shauca, the Yogi keeps the body clear as well.
2: Santosha: Santosha, or contentment is a state of being okay with you are and what you have. Ony after you have become honest with yourself can you grow. ”On this path effort never goes to waste, and their is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from your greatest fear.” ( Bhagavad Gita 2:40)
3: Tapas: Show discipline in body, speech, and mind. This is also showing physical disipline by heating the body and purging any illness or disease.
4: svadhyaya: The study of sacred text and self. This involves applying other’s wisdom into your practice and concluding its truth. Iyenger and Patajali, as well as Frued and Buddah have written or spoke about things I have found to be true in my life. As Iyengar says, a person starts “to realize that all creation is meant for bhakti (adoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment), that all creation is divine, that there is divinity within himself and that the energy which moves him is the same that moves the entire universe.”
5: ishvara-pranidhana: Living with an awareness of the Divine Be devoted to God, Buddha, Krishna or whatever you consider divine. Your life on earth is a gift. You are just borrowing it, no one can take it because you don’t own it. If you look at your soul and action this way, it becomes easier to keep safe.
Asana is the daily practice of physical yoga. Only when the body is free from affliction and illness can the mind become quiet enough from disturbances to practice the next limbs. The practice of Asana strengthens the Yamas and Niyamsa by creating a space to observe your thoughts and actions. The practice of Asana gives the Yogi time to reflect.
Dharana: The sixth Limb
Concentration or Dharana involves teaching the mind to focus on one point or image. “Concentration is binding thought in one place,” says Patanjali. This includes staring at a candle or repeating a mantra to one’s self with the breath.
Dhyana: The seventh limb
Uninterrupted meditation without an object is called dhyana. Concentration (dharana) leads to the state of meditation. The goal of meditation is not unconsciousness or nothingness. Once we get a glimpse of this, we sometimes think it is the end result. With yoga, there is no end result we are trying to achieve. Only once we let go to wanting a result from dhyana it becomes easier to access.
Samadhi: The eighth Limb
The ultimate end of the eightfold path to yoga is samadhi or absolute bliss.
So when I say Yoga I refer to one of these limbs. In this way, you can see I have created a life of practice in relation to Yoga. In any situation one of these limbs is a tool or a guide. I have come to realise most suffering occours out of the thought that we are different than other people. When in reality we all have the same disturbances of the mind. Being honest and admiting your faults is not only funny (because its true and everyone relates to it) but also very freeing. Its very hard to walk around with heavy feet pretending you know everything.
Yoga for myself, is a practice of watching my thoughts & actions. If you become able to watch yourself think, you become able to watch yourself act. If you spend an hour each day in Asana (postures) you will have an hour to watch the afflictions of your mind. The mind is sly and full of tricks, as well is the world, to tempt you and stear you away from consciousness. By the practice of yoga, the consciousness grows. As consciousness grows, it is more easily available to access. When we pick delibritely to be unconscious, that time we have to spend to reflect on it turns into a very heavy burden.
I will blog further about the eight limbs dealing with specific modern issues most of you Yogis encounter on a day to day basis. Please feel free to leave you comments and questions relating to any one.
Thank you for reading!