8 Limbs of Yoga
Breathing in and breathing out, moving gracefully, or not in and out of postures.
Balancing on one foot, one hand, your head even? Why should we spend the time, the money and energy towards yoga? How does it benefit besides giving us an excuse to wear comfy yoga clothes?
Yoga is an ancient tradition of movements as well as meditation, breath practices and guiding principles that help us to navigate through our lives with grace, ease and gratitude. What is currently identified as yoga, is just one part of the whole system. It would be the same if you just put one hand and one foot on the climbing wall and proclaimed you were climbing. By pulling out just one part of the whole, you lose the potential of the full experience.
8-Limbs of Yoga this gives us the full prospective and magnitude of yoga in the ways it can positively affect ourselves and the greater world around us.
Let’s take this one limb at a time.
Yamas or self-control. These are qualities we must strive to develop within ourselves.
Ahimsa: Non-Violence Non-violence in this context means no intention to hurt ourselves or others. We can hurt others and ourselves in many different ways. Apart from obvious physical and mental violence, feeding your body toxic food, anger, jealousy, and unkind words are all forms of violence. Over training regularly or not finding a balance of work and play. These all can be qualities we can cultivate with the help of Ahimsa.
Satya: Truth Satya is all about living with a clear, honest, and grounded view both of yourself and the world around you. When you’re able to see things for what they are, you can accept them as they are, freeing you to experience a greater sense of self-love and compassion for those around you. When we find ourselves continuing to live out of alignment with our principles or truth it will always take a toll somehow.
Asteya: Non-Stealing This is meant in the obvious sense of not taking anything which is not yours. Stealing can be in the form of money, materials, ideas, time, effort. Other forms of stealing can be taking advantage of the situation, not following through on your word, or not putting forth your best effort. Stealing can also be on an emotional and energetic level – stealing someone’s peace or happiness through your words, or being an ‘emotional vampire’ are other forms of stealing.
Brahmacharya: Non-Indulgence This practice includes not over-indulging in pleasures of the senses. Some examples are an over-indulgence in food or physical pleasures like sex, drugs, or even sleep. If you practice Brahmacharya you eat food to stay healthy and not just for pleasure. You enjoy things like sex, shopping, or anything else in healthy moderation. By practicing Brahmacharya, we tap into self-control and self-awareness, and ultimately gratitude and contentment will follow.
Aparigraha: Non-Possessiveness It is so easy to get carried away in the pursuit of the newest gadget or gear. As a result, we waste a lot of time, money and energy on unnecessary things. The idea is to develop habit of non-possessiveness or non-attachment, so we only take and collect what we actually need and shift our focus from lack to the opportunity for abundance. The concept of non-attachment also spans to releasing the need to control, not harboring feelings of jealousy, frustrations or anger.
This first limb of yoga guides us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses and a broad perspective of what is possible. Take time this week to contemplate where these observances could benefit in your life.
See you on the mat.
About the Author
Shauna Hylenski is one of the owners of LCC plus the Program Director and yoga instructor. She enjoys the opportunity to share this authentic style of yoga practice with the greater LCC community. She has been teaching yoga for over 10 years, and began Shri Studios in 2017. Shauna has now embarked on the adventure of teaching teachers, in an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training that she began with Camp Utopia and Allison Rissel in September of this year. Check LCC’s website for when you can attend one of Shauna’s classes.