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Yoga Lowdown, Yoga Beyond Asana
February 23, 2015
Yoga Beyond Asana
There are eight limbs of yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Over the next few months I hope to give an overview of the eight limbs so the reader may begin to understand the other aspects of yoga beyond asana (posture).
Yama is the first limb of yoga and Niyama is the second limb of yoga.
1. Yama - Ethical Disciplines for Society
A. Ahimsa means non-violence. This encompasses everything from physical harm, verbal abuse, bullying, gossip and other actions that may harm another being. This is also where vegetarianism ideas come in, harming animals is as undesirable as harming people.
B. Satya means truthfulness, not only being truthful with others but also being truthful with ourselves, understanding and heeding our limits.
C. Asteya means non-stealing. Beyond the theft of objects, this Yama includes the idea of not taking credit for other’s work, giving credit where credit is due.
D. Brahmacharya- continence or self-control. Brahmacharya sometimes is translated as chastity but it is also translated as self-control. Refraining from overeating, binge drinking alcohol, running up credit card balances and other out of control behaviors would be the practice of Brahmacharya.
E. Aparigraha means non-coveting. This includes the idea of not taking more than you need and if you find yourself with excess give to those in need.
2. Niyama - Rules on conduct that apply to individual disciplineA. Saucha is the idea of purity. That is purity in speech as well as purity in thought. Not using profanity and not thinking bad thoughts about others are a couple of examples.
B. Santosa-contentment, being happy with what you have. This includes not being jealous of your classmate’s asana.
C. Tapas means ardor or austerity. This includes the determined practice of asana as well as other ambitions such as working hard to practice all these concepts.
D. Svadhyaya is the study of the self through observation. I like to remind my classes to practice this during Savasana at the end of the asana classes, to observe the affects of the practice.
E. Isvara Pranidhana-dedication to the Lord or a higher power.
These are the concepts that we should all live by if we are to call ourselves practitioners of yoga.
Take your yoga out of the studio, off the mat and into your daily life.
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