New or seasoned to your yoga practice, it is always a smart idea to refresh your practice and explore ways to connect your practice with a deep source. What better time to do that than now? Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga provides a helpful guide to find deeper meanings both on and off the mat. In our western yoga community it is very easy to roll our mats out a few times a week- breath a little, open up our hamstrings, and fit into our favorite summer dresses. These are all just symptoms of yoga. Symptoms are certainly positive, but what about the root of the practice? Yoga unites the mind and the body. Without that connection it is likely we will not maintain or grow these “symptoms” as a true lifestyle.
What if we built our asana practice on principles we could connect to while spending time with family, sitting at a desk and/or traveling the world? These principles create the very recipe to a life long practice and they have very little to do with headstands and arm balances. On the other hand, if you are practicing more advanced asana poses while keeping the eight limbs of yoga as a foundation- you do this with a very open and steady heart rather than with ego and haste. A couple of ways to cultivate a yogic lifestyle include seeking workshops on the subject and asking your teachers to recommend literature. Get creative! Explore the yamas and niyamas. As these seeds begin to grow, you may find many levels of inspiration each time you practice your favorite poses.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga:
1. Yamas : Universal morality
2. Niyamas: Personal observances
3. Asanas: Body postures
4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of senses
6. Dharana: Commitment of focus
7. Dhyana: Meditation/ Devotion
8. Samadhi: State of one-ness