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The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Updated: 4 days ago

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The Eight Limbs of Yoga © 2020 by Kylie Hennessy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

In today's classes we talked about the 8 limbs of yoga. I like to emphasis that yoga is not a religion, not a should, not a good, or a bad. Although yoga can become and is a way of life for many and has been dating back through much to ancient India, it doesn't have to be. What people often find though, whether they arrived at yoga for mental health, lower back, flexibility, stress relief, to fall pregnant, to prepare for birth, fitness, or something else, the practices of yoga often start to permeate through life. As we develop more self-awareness and recondition our mind/body/breath to stay more sattvic or regulated, we start noticing when stress or tension arises ( or in the buzz words of the day, notice when we are deregulated) and use our acquired yoga tools to reregulate.

If I had a dollar for every person who has said to me over the years something along the lines of "now when I start to feel stress I automatically take some deeper breaths and calm myself down", I wouldn't care about the covid impact of my business. The 8 limbs of yoga are practices that help to bring us back into a state of yoga. A more balanced state of equanimity, where our mind is more still and we are abiding in the present moment. These 8 limbs really weave together as a whole and, as with limbs on a tree, they don't grow one at a time. If we focus on one, the others will all grow too.

💖Yamas and 💖niyamas are observances, attitudes, and restraints to practices toward others, the environment around us, and ourselves. They create behaviours and thought patterns, which lead to more calm and clear states of mind. We feel more present and authentic to ourselves and others.

💖Pranayama is breath work and an especially useful and profoundly simple technique is regulating the breath through the nose, and extending the out breath (fancy techniques are not often required).

💖Asana or postures people most associate with yoga but often misunderstand that asana refers to a steady or stable and comfortable position or movement... not suffering with effort and strain. No pain, no gain does not apply to asana practice.

Then we have 💖 pratyhara, withdrawal of the senses, 💖dharana, directing our attention,

💖dhyana, maintaining focus attention, and

💖samadhi, absorption into the present moment.

Essentially, the last limbs are referring to a clear and present state of mind.

When I teach an asana-based class I try to weave in all the limbs as much as I can. Many people say my classes are "more meditative" than others they have been to. Even strong physical practices can and really should, feel meditative if we are practicing and teaching yoga with the 8 limbs to cultivate a clear and calm state of mind. It is not a choreography or "creative sequence", it is a mind/body/breath/spirit practice.

💖Developing presence of the heart and mastery of our mind with the goal of feeling better, not because we "should" or "shouldn't". "Shoulds" come from the mind.

💖 "The mind- a beautiful servant, a dangerous master." Osho💖


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