Yoga’s 8 “Limbs” – In Action!
Depending on how long you have been in yoga class, you may or may not know that the practice of yoga encompasses 8 “limbs” (ashtanga) – or aspects – that move us from outside practices to inside discoveries. And, though the most visible aspect of yoga for most modern practitioners is the poses we move through on a mat in a studio, all the other seven might be at least touched on or discovered within that practice if the knowledge and curiosity is there. It is actually why I stuck to Iyengar Yoga after trying so many other styles. The written philosophy that is thousands of years old is to be experienced IN ACTION if we are guided or encouraged to do so.
I am excited to share a series that I came up with for this very purpose – to take our very familiar physical practice of postures (asanas) and encourage a more in-depth look at all the other “limbs” to deepen our experience and enrich the benefits of yoga.
WEEK 1 : Yamas and Niyamas – We engage with the world through universal moral precepts (Yamas) and we engage with ourself through personal observations and intentions (Niyamas). When we step into a studio and step onto a mat for practice, those precepts and observations are still needed. We will look at posture through the lens of the specific Yamas and Niyamas throughout this series.
- Yamas – non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, and non-covetousness
- Niyamas – self discipline, cleanliness, contentment in all things, self-study, and belief in a higher power
WEEK 2 : Asana and Pranayama – perhaps the most familiar aspects of a yoga class – posture and breathing techniques. Through these more familiar practices, we will continue to study the Yamas and Niyamas and also bridge the gap between what we “see” and “do” in external practices and what we experience in the more internal aspects of yoga.
WEEK 3 : Pratyahara and Dharana – internalizing the senses and bringing focus to the mind can begin in our postures and in action. Through a sequence of postures or through timing of posture holds, we can begin to engage in the more sensory experience of our Self. How do we feel about or within certain postures? What are our mental or emotional reactions to certain postures? When does the mind focus or when is it wandering? Do you know?
WEEK 4 : Dhyana and Samadhi – meditation and self realization are buzz words throughout yoga communities, but HOW do they really happen? These two aspects of yoga are what happen when the other 6 limbs have been connected to and practiced to a degree that the effort becomes effortless. The “doing” becomes the “being”. BKS Iyengar always referred to his practice of asana (posture) as “meditation in action”. From his almost 80 years of practice, he left us knowledge, guidance, and tools to discover just that for ourselves.
Join me on Tuesday nights in January (starting next week, the 10th) for the 8-Limbs in Action series! With your registration you will receive detailed handouts on each of the limbs, the sequence for practice in future, and access to the recording of the live class for 2 weeks after the given class. In-studio and Online is available, and you are welcome to sign-up for “recordings only” if that is all you can manage.