Yoga is many things to many people. The truth is that whatever Yoga serves for you at this moment is exactly what it is. Many westerners refer to Yoga as a sacred practice to aspire to. However, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the first book about the practice of Yoga, Sutra is all about self-contemplation. Simply put, Yoga provides the Yogi with the inner guide to begin their ultimate journey to self. As I will soon discuss, it is important to follow the eight limbs of Yoga to make the absolute most of your Yoga journey.
The Duality and the paradox is that life is not something to resist and argue against. Rather, we learn the fine art of acceptance through the practice of Yoga. This sacred practiced does so much more than get our bodies to contort and stretch. It allows us to cultivate wisdom and beauty in all things. By doing so, we all emerge more peaceful and full of joy over what is, rather than disgruntled about what isn’t.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga:
1. Yamas consist of five moral constraints – “Don’t”
A. Ahimsa – nonviolence
B. Satyra – mindfulness
C. Asteya – non-stealing
D. Brahmacarya – moderation
E. Aparigraha – non-hoarding
2. Niyamas consists of five observances – “Do”
A. Sauça – purity
B. Santosa – contentment
C. Tapas – Zeal, austerity
D. Svadyayaya- self-study
E. Isvara – pranidhana – devotion to a higher power
3. Asana – Postures
4. Pranayama- Mindful breathing
5. Pratyahara – Tuning inward
This is the transition of of Yogi from external world to a Yogi’s inner being.
6. Dharana – Concentration, one pointed focus
7. Dhyana – Meditation
8. Samadhi – Union of the self with the universe, oneness
Accepting the Eight Limbs
According to the eight limbs of Yoga, the focus changes from external conduct in the world of “don’ts” and “do’s” to then tuning inward to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exploration to ultimately arrive to be diffused of any separation from the infinite universe.
I used to think this was so esoteric and hard to grasp. In fact, for a long time I rejected the eight limbs of Yoga until slowly but surely it became inevitable to clearly see that the practice of Yoga naturally brings you to an inner awareness that is second to none. I learned that Yin and Yang are both necessary in life as are many dualistic forces in life: Moon and sun, acid and alkaline, hot and cold, sadness and joy, light and dark, positive and negative, etc.
It’s when we can grow and evolve through the practice of Yoga that we can learn the fine art of acceptance and surrender to what is. This surrender allows us to be finally liberated from the shackles of our limited mind to explore the vastness of the universe and all it’s possibilities.
The key is to be open to the practice. As you embark on your path, bring curiosity and purity of your being simply to explore rather than make it what it ought to be. The moment we try to grasp it , define it and attach to it, we’ve missed the essence of Yoga.
Being wise is so much more grounding than being smart. To be smart in this world is very limiting as it attaches to what is tangible. Being wise provides us with an ability to see the unseen and true our inner intuition to live our lives with discipline and focus in being true to our inner core being which ultimately brings us back to expland beyond.
Beginning Your Practice
So in summary, Yin represents the inner being. The first four limb of Yoga are all about conducting ourselves in our outer world. The fifth limb is the transition from the external world to the inner world. The last three limbs lead us into the innermost being, which ultimately brings us to be one with the universe. It is the ultimate union without polarity or duality.
So as you practice “Yoga,” which is mostly asanas, the purity of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual faculties requires us to always know our True North. A clarity in destination is key to live a fulfilling life. We learn that the path to Yoga is not linear. It’s convoluted and difficult at times, but we find inner wisdom and cultivate love and patience from within to take us through our ultimate self-healing journey.