But then life happened. I started working, reconnecting with friends, I went to Pelee Island for a long weekend, and when I came back I had a10-day bout of bronchitis. My bodily energy dwindled and so did my physical practice of yoga. But during this time, I’ve inched my way into my yogic philosophy readings. I’ve started with the Yoga Sultras of Patanjali. The Sultras are basically a guide to transformation through yoga,
“through yoga practice, we can transform ourselves, gain mastery over the mind and emotions, overcome obstacles to our spiritual evolution and attain the goal of yoga: kaivalya, liberation from the bondage of worldly desires and actions, and union with the divine."At the foundation, is the 8-fold path, Astanga yoga. The predominant yoga practiced in the west skips right to asana (body postures), which is the 3rd limb of the 8-fold path. That’s what I started with some 8 or 9 years ago and asana is all I have practiced and known of yoga for all these years of practice. I’m just beginning to grasp how much more yoga is and can be for me.
Being sick not having the bodily energy to practice asana has helped to slow me down enough to realize this. What does it mean that it’s called a “path”? Do paths have a prescribed start and finish? I got on the path somewhere in the middle of the beginning (at the 3rd limb). I’m ready to loop back to the first and second limb- start contemplating what the Yamas and the Niyamas mean for my life.
Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
- Yama (Principles or moral code)_* Ahimsa - A principle of non-violence_* Satya - A principle of Truthfulness_* Asteya - A principle of non stealing_* Brahmacharya - Continence / celibacy_* Aparigah - A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness
- Niyama (Personal Disciplines) _* Shoucha - Purity_* Santosh - Contentment_* Tapa - Endurance_* Swadhyaya- Self study_* Eshwar Pranidhan- Dedication
- Asana - (Yoga Postures / positions) A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.
- Pranayama - (Yoga Breathing) Extension and control of breath.
- Pratyahara - (Withdrawal of Senses) A mental preparation to increase the power of mind.
- Dharana - (Concentration on Object) Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
- Dhyan - (Meditation) With drawing mind from all external objects and Focusing it on one point and meditating on it.
- Samadhi - (Salvation) State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness in to universal consciousness. Union between Jivatman and Paramatman. Union of Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrar Chakra (the top of the head). Realizing the Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the ultimate achievement of Human Birth.