Five years ago, I thought yoga was just another form of workout that would increase my flexibility. I had taken a few yoga training courses, and decided to attend a 200 hour intensive training. Boy, was I wrong thinking yoga was just a workout! In those 200 hours my life was flipped upside down. I learned a new perspective on yoga and life.
The essence of yoga is:
- Letting go of competition, judgement and expectations.
- Breathing, feeling and listening to the body.
- Being in the present moment.
Yoga is more than just a physical discipline, it is a way of life to maintain a state of equanimity (a state of mental or emotional stability).
I’m here to share with you what I learned that changed my life.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga:
1) Yamas: Guidelines for how we interact with the outer world.
- Ahimsa: nonviolence. Compassion, love, understanding, patience, and self love.
- Satya: truthfulness. Honesty, non judging, and giving constructive feedback.
- Asetya: nonstealing. Letting go of competition, cravings, and false value.
- Brahmacarya: moderation. Awareness of cravings and attachments.
- Aparigraha: nonhoarding. Non attachment to possessions and relationships.
- Sauca: purity. Evenness of mind, thoughts, and speech.
- Samtosa: contentment. Gratitude and joyfulness, remain calm in good and bad.
- Tapas: zeal, austerity. Determination to pursue daily practice.
- Svadhyaya: self study. Reflection, meditation, and wanting to know.
- Isvara-pranidhana: devotion to a higher power.
Yoga is about finding the truth for yourself and connecting with it. Yamas and Niyamas are not about right and wrong. They are about living our lives in a better way, and moving towards a greater understanding of our selves and others.
4) Pranyama: Mindful breathing, breath control practices help us to release tension and develop a relaxed state of mind.
5) Pratyahara: Turning inward, withdrawal from distractions of the outside world. Rightly managing the senses and going beyond them. Practiced with mantra, meditation, and visualization towards achieving 3 meditative states.
6) Dharana: One of the three Meditative States: Concentration on an object, place - meditation with effort
7) Dhyana: One of the three Meditative States: Meditation effortlessly
8) Samadhi: One of the three Meditative States: Union of the Self
Before learning the 8 limbs of Yoga, I would get bent out of shape over things and be everywhere but the present moment.
I originally started going to yoga for the workout, but along the path I learned it was much more than cool poses and touching your toes. Yoga changed my life and continues to remind me to be present.