Yoga and More

  Time tested technologies for health and well being.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga (attaining balance).

Read on if you are interested in knowing the breadth and depth of what yoga has to offer through the practice of the eight limbs, described below.  I will first share with you how I stumbled upon the different limbs at different points in my life.

Each of us is motivated to explore yoga for different reasons or purposes.  Each of the eight limbs of yoga offers its own path towards self awareness and awareness of our surroundings and relationships.

My experience discovering some of the Eight Limbs

Each of the eight limbs of yoga offer answers, remedies, solutions, elixirs or the like.  For me, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I was following the path of the times by exploring alternative life styles in my quest to find meaning.  The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” of the late 1960s was followed by their musical joint venture with an Indian musician, Ravi Shankar in the early 1970s.  Meditation was popularized, and was of interest to me.

In 1973, I did not know that I was introduced to Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara and Dharama.  I only knew that the Hatha Yoga class I took, with exercises and breathing techniques, followed by quiet relaxation, made me feel good physically and mentally.  Thereafter, I used certain of the exercises and poses to self create relaxation after sitting for hours at my desk job, or when feeling stress.  In 1996, after being infected with a staff infection in my lungs, such that one and a half of my lungs collapsed, I continued to breathe for two days before diagnosis and medication while sitting on the edge of my hospital bed with my head resting in my arms on a meal tray table.  I did a breathing exercise I learned in 1973 in Hatha Yoga classes, very similar to the "breath of fire" that is taught in Kundalini Yoga.

The Eight Limbs

These are the eight limbs.  Practice the first six, and you will attain wholeness, completeness, fullness, and awareness.  Introduce your children to yoga, and they will learn the lifetime skills to cultivate themselves into the persons they want to be.  The first five limbs are included in my classes for adults and children.  An understanding of Yoga through practice teaches one that ignorance is not bliss, but rather, full consciousness is bliss.  Wahe Guru! 

1. Yamas: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Non-excessiveness, and Non-possessiveness.  Said otherwise: deal with people and our planet in a compassionate and an ethical manner.  For children, they should follow the school lunchroom rules (do not throw food, do not take food from another’s plate, speak kind words while eating).

2. Niyamas: Purity, Contentment, Self Discipline, Self Study, and Personal Observance.  Said otherwise, take a shower, wash your dishes, appreciate what you have, self-start your work or other obligations, learn something new, and devote some of your time to self improvement.  For children, the basic Niyama is to know that they should do the best that they can do.  Not only is that good enough, but each child who does her or his best will fulfill all their obligations and attain self esteem.

3. Asanas: Exercises and body postures for health.  Adults will become limber, physically strong, and boost their immune systems. Children will become coordinated, graceful, alert and self-confident.  Many yoga exercises for children are found in brain gym and other therapies to enhance mental functioning and motor coordination.

4. Pranayama: Using breath and breathing to facilitate asanas and meditation, or to create physical warmth or coolness or calmness.  Adults will learn to use breath to wake up or to take a nap.  Children will learn how breath can be centering and calming.

5. Pratyahara: Meditation to still one’s thoughts or senses, or to create mental calmness.  Adults and children alike who practice this will become inwardly aware and outwardly alert.  Pranayama sets up the ability to practice this meditation.

6. Dharana: One pointed concentration meditation.  Adults and adolescents who are practiced at Pratyahara meditation may also do this form of mediation to achieve a feeling of well being.  I incorporate chanting or the silent repetition of a mantra to assist in achieving this form of meditation.

7. Dhyana: Deep meditation, or focusing on reality beyond the illusions that cloud our mind without ego.  Being able to observe in stillness without making a judgment, which is without ego.

8. Samadhi: Union with the divine, or experience of consciousness, truth and unutterable joy.