YOGA: The 8 Limbs
(me - taken in Joshue Tree CA 2010)
Yoga... so many ways to describe it these days. SO many styles, teachers, classes, etc. We can practice demented gymnastics as one of my greatest teachers says or we can offer this great long time science to the greater good not being attached to doing the best handstand or having the tightest butt. Did we not come to yoga to practice non attachment and be kinder people? If your are leading class or taking a class, the breath should be steady, the heart open, and the mind receptive. The foundation of yoga is yama and niyama. One could simply offer service by cleaning toilets for three years before an actual asana (posture/seat) is ever attempted thus creating humility in the student. Yoga without humility lacks true devotion. Yoga is devotion to the higher self and surrendering to the highest force. That can mean many forms for us (Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, nature, etc.) If a yoga practice is solely selfish it will not last. All we own is our spiritual knowledge. The body will die slowly over time and even the mind will go. But our deeds, actions, and intentions will stay with us and harbor a more peaceful mind at the end of our life in this lifetime.
The below must be practiced in order to still the mind. In addition, a vegetarian diet will yield the highest prana (energy) and guide your meditation to the brightest level of frequency. I am not here to judge, only to pass on what has been taught to me by true honest teachers in long time lineages who have done the work. There are many foolish teachers who will just take your money and tell you your great or maybe even ask you out on a date. A true spiritual teacher never talks about themselves. They are humble, kind, and live simply. They will never steal from you and will always guide you towards the truth. The truth being self realization.
Yama: Universal morality / code of conduct / restraint
Niyama: Personal observances / study + devotional practices
Asanas: Body postures integrating movement, breath, and concentration
Pranayama: Breathing exercises /control of prana (life force)
Pratyahara: Control / Withdrawl of the senses
Dharana: Cultivating inner perceptual awareness through concentration
Dhyana: Devotion, Meditating on the Divine
Samadhi: Union with the Divine
Read more about each limb here