Every moment of your life is a moment of potential practice.
– Judith Lasater
Many people think of yoga as a physical exercise full of various poses that may involve twisting into a pretzel. Yet the poses are only one of the eight limbs of yoga – a term that translates to “union.” Yoga is a lifestyle and sometimes life is full of twists, tribulations, and tranquility. By practicing the eight limbs below, you are able to find reflection, physical practice, and deep breathing.
- Yamas (guidelines for interacting with the world): These five guidelines give insights into how to act toward others and include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, and greedlessness.
- Niyamas (guidelines for interacting with ourselves): These five guidelines focus on how you treat yourself and include purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, and letting go.
- Asana (poses): This is what we commonly refer to as yoga in the West – down dog, cobra, and lion’s pose! The physical practice of yoga is a great way to try to still the mind and open the body.
- Pranayama (breathwork): Breath control is a powerful tool during our daily lives. Notice how the breath becomes shallow when on deadline or waiting in a long line. Taking deep, full breaths is sure to have a calming effect.
- Pratayahara (withdrawal of senses): This concept encourages us to avoid reacting to everything around us. Picture yourself calm, collected, and compassionate in the middle of the mall the day after Thanksgiving.
- Dharana (concentration): This is the ability to be completely in the moment and focused on only one thing. Use mantras, breath, images, or even candles to help bring you into focus.
- Dhyana (meditation): Turn inward, release the mind, and focus on just being in that moment. Much easier said than done but it is a critical addition to the physical practice. It is said that yogis began practicing these fabulous poses to get ready for meditation.
- Samadhi (true bliss): This is the experience of wholeness when you are in the flow and feeling connected to all. Think inner peace, bliss, and overall freedom.
Omwork (homework with a yogic twist): Next time you find yourself debating next steps, making a challenging decision, or wondering how best to find balance, refer back to these eight limbs and find solace in this ancient wisdom. Namaste.