8 Limbs of Yoga for Your LIFE

That’s me meditating in Game Cock Canyon at the Mount Madonna Center …

This video below, is an interview I did with Bhavani one of the 30 or so people who in 1978, along with a 50 year old Eastern Indian Guru (now 87) started the Mt. Madonna center; a karma yoga community and retreat facility in the mountains of Northern California.

Make sure you plug in headphones and turn the volume up! Unfortunately the sound is a bit low but the content is worth the effort. So listen up and learn about the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

Like many I used to believe that Yoga was only a bunch of poses where you twist yourself into odd and sometimes painful postures and then I visited a mountain! There I discovered a centuries old philosophy and a path to deeper spirituality with the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

1. Yama is Translated as restraint. The first two limbs each have 5 parts. The Yama’s are things to restrain from in order to lead a good life:

  • Ahimsa – Non-violence or non-harming to others and yourself. This includes non-harming in words, actions and thoughts.
  • Satya – Truthfulness, honesty at all times.
  • Asteya – non-stealing
  • Bramacharya – this is often translated as sexual abstinence but is more accurately understood as continence. Its about mindfully walking the path of God and being careful of how and where you spend your energy.
  • Aparigraha – known as Non-possessiveness. The practice of living unattached to your possessions because often the things we own  in turn end up possessing us.

2. Niyama The niyama’s are five observances. These are characteristics to observe and practice to live a quality life. They are:

  • Saucha – Cleanliness of mind, body and your environment or living space.
  • Santosha – Contentment. This is not only being content with the “Stuff” you have but also the act of being content with all the things in your life as Bhavani said in the video.
  • Tapas – Austerity is the practice of you exercising your Will Power. To abstain from excessive food eating or using drugs or alcohol and any behaviors that might lead you further away from God.
  • Svadhyaya – Which is self-study. This can be any study that improves your life and deepens your knowledge of self and understanding of God.
  • Isvara-pranidana – The final stage which can be done at any time, surrender to God.

3. Asana is the limb most practice and the limb most are familiar with in the west and that is the act of practicing the postures. The word actually means sea and the original yoga was only a series of seated postures to help your prepare for the act of meditation.

4. Pranayama is breathe control. This is the process of controlling your breathe and therefore your precious life energy. Helping you control the mind and expand the life force with in.

5. Pratyahara is the process of withdrawing your senses, it’s the bridge from the previous external limbs to the internal; going inside to connect with the deeper self and with God.

6. Dharana the first stage which is concentration known as one pointed focus. As Bhavani said in the video its like a stream of water or a waterfall. In this stage you are attempting to focus the mind on a single point like a candle flame, a light within or a mantra. Like a waterfall the stream breaks at points i.e. your mind wonders or drifts and you so you bring your mind back.

7. Dhyana translates to meditation and this is the point we are all trying to get to in our meditation where there is no break in our concentration. The analogy we learned on mountain is it’s like pouring oil from a pitcher where the stream is unbroken. Here if you were meditating using a mantra, saying over and over OM, OM, OM … there would be no break. Babaji says that many experience this during their meditation even if it’s for such a short period they don’t recognize it.

8. Samadhi or absorption is when there is no longer any separation between you and the object you are meditating on. There is no longer any conscious awareness of you meditating. This is a trance like state known as super consciousness where you merge with the creator.

What I love most about karma yoga and the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga  is that regardless of your religious beliefs, even if you are an antsiest this is something everyone can practice!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know what you learned or share what Yoga means to you and the affect it has had on your life in the comments below. Also if you found this information helpful or enlightening in any way please feel free to share it using the Facebook share, Tweeting  it or other email and social media options available. Thank you!

Wishing you Peace & Prosperity,

Dallas Cyr

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