This year I’ve been introduced to the eight limbs of yoga. Now, for those who might think it means people who do yoga discover body parts they didn’t know they had, let me explain. The “eight limbs” are moral, ethical, and social guidelines to live by, both on and off the yoga mat. What you say, do and think affects your happiness and well being, so the ancient tradition of yoga has principles to help us live more consciously. Aligning yourself with these practices is said to bring about inner peace in body, mind and spirit.
8 Limbs of Yoga…
The following is a brief summary of the eight limbs of yoga, as well as the ones that I’ve been personally focusing on and integrating into my life for the last month:
1st Limb –Yama deals with our behaviour and how we conduct ourselves in everyday life.
2nd Limb – Niyama has to do with our chosen spiritual practice(s) and self discipline.
3rd Limb – Asana focuses on the practice of the actual physical yoga postures for wellbeing.
4th Limb – Pranayama is about bringing awareness and expansion of the life force through the breath.
5th Limb – Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the five senses in order to experience our inner world.
6th Limb – Dharana is concentration/focus in order to cut through the distracted mind, and bring about more calm and centeredness.
7th Limb – Dhyana is meditation. Dhyana helps to dissolve the sense of separation with the Divine, which results in a sense of oneness and deep peace.
8th Limb – Samadhi is the supreme state. A state of consciousness where we move beyond time, space, and form.
Currently, I’m practicing limbs, 2, 4 and 7…
For limb 2, I attend the Centre for Spiritual Living in Edmonton on Sunday mornings. This acts as a weekly discipline, and good reminder of my spiritual practices. I apply limb 4 by reminding myself daily to breathe deeply and mindfully, to find little pauses for awareness in the day. Lastly, I meditate on a nightly basis for 10-20 minutes, to relax the mind from the day, which is limb 7.
These small acts help me to better “land” in my body and become more present to the moment. If you’d like more harmony and balance in your life, I would suggest you explore the 8 limbs of yoga more deeply, and work on slowly integrating them into your own life.