More than just the shapes we make on the mat, Yoga is a way of life.
If we explore our curiosities and begin to dive into the richness of its philosophy we find alluring myths, a polished and positive outlook and as well as a simple and intuitive road map for living a purpose-fuelled, fulfilling life.
We can catch glimmers of bliss that, with enough practice, turn into a lived experience.
Knowing that we only ever scratch the surface in one life time with our knowledge, here’s an info graphic that gives a fairly simple and practical understanding of the ‘8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga’ by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras 400CE . They’re kind of like the building blocks of Yogic living.
The Yamas are instinctive ways to lead a healthy and harmonious life but also beautiful reminders of the law of karma or cause and effect: what we give, we get in return. Do unto others as we’d want done to us.
The Niyamas are personal observances. They remind us to keep our mind and body clean, practice discipline through daily rituals and remind us that there’s a force greater than just you and I, guiding us if only we surrender to it. This reminds me of one of Rumi’s quotes: “Live as if the world is rigged in your favour.”
Asanas are the shapes we make on the mat and were originally created so that yogis could sit still and comfortably in meditation. Somehow in our modern world we’ve turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry. Although I think this is great because it’s brining yoga to so many people, let’s remember their original intention and honour that from time to time through stillness.
Pranayama is the breath work and loosely translates to ‘expansion of life force’. There are so many of these techniques we can call on to cleanse, to soften our bodies, to calm the mind or to wake up in the morning.
Pratyahara is the practice of turning inward and withdrawal of senses so that we may journey a little closer towards the final three limbs. This limb encourages us to disconnect from disturbances and distractions and call us to dig deeper into stillness.
Dharana uses the withdrawal of senses to give focus to an intention. In these places of great focus, our ability to manifest and create is powerful beyond words.
Dhyana is that place in which we practice full awareness. We’re fully alive, fully conscious and fully awake. The cool thing about this is that we can practice meditation off the mat and out of seated postures. Try practicing mindfulness through eating, walking and connecting with friends. Can you be fully away, listening and conscious to the very now?
Samadhi – bliss. Pure ecstasy; the yogi’s ultimate goal.
“Samadhi is a state of awareness, yet there is nothing to witness. Begin with Dhyana and end in Samandhi and you will know ‘God’. It is not a hypothesis, it is an experience. You have to live it – that is the only way to know it.” Osho