Thursday, 28 February 2013

An introduction to the eight limbs of yoga

The sage Patanjali devised an eightfold path as guidelines for a yogic life.  These are

1. The Yamas – there are 5 yamas or moral restraints.  
• Ahimsa – this translates as ‘non-harming’, ‘non-violence’.  It refers not only to physical violence but violence with words and harmful thoughts.  It is to do with compassion for all living beings and towards yourself.  To be compassionate towards yourself includes letting go of self-criticism.  Some yogis are vegetarians as they believe that is in keeping with the practice of ahimsa.  In terms of your yoga practice it means that when you practice you should be mindful of your own capabilities, never straining in the posture work.  Take rests when you need to and modify the poses to better suit them to your body. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-yamas-yama-ahimsa.html
• Satya - this translates as truthfulness, being honest with others and behaving in accordance with our beliefs.  On the mat it means being honest with ourselves about how we are feeling, physically and energetically and working accordingly, accepting what is right for us on any particular day. To push beyond our capabilities would not be in keeping with ahimsa also and so to a large extent the two yamas are linked. 
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-yamas-satya.html
• Asteya - translates as ‘non-stealing’ but at a more subtle level it means controlling desires for material possessions.  In terms of your yoga practice I had several ideas for this yama. In practice it could be interpreted as not holding back, working to the best of your abilities while at the same time bearing in mind ahimsa and satya.  Do not ‘save energy’ for other poses in your practice.  Yoga is energy building unlike many sports that are energy depleting.  A kundalini practice would illustrate this beautifully.  Start with the mantra ‘I call upon my higher self to do my very best.’ We could also bring asteya to the mat (and to our lives) with a stress relieving practice since stress ‘robs’ us of energy and ultimately our health.  Another thought I had on bringing asteya into your yoga practice was to pay attention to good alignment, for if we do not we are ‘stealing’ the enhanced benefits of the asanas from ourselves and injury may even follow.  In fact when we practice asanas we should always be present because if our minds wander we are ‘stealing’ the full experience of being in the pose from ourselves.  Asteya can also be translated as hoarding material possessions.  The opposite of this is being generous.  Acknowledging this it would be nice to dedicate our energy in asana practice to someone, a loved one or someone who is in need of compassion or to the earth. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-yamas-asteya.html
• Brahmacharya – this used to translate as celibacy.  It was believed that by being celibate the yogi could direct their energies towards the ultimate goal of yoga, samedi.  Today it is thought of more in terms of moderation of sexual cravings, ensuring your sexuality is based on love.  It can also be thought of as using the life force to best effect.  I had two thoughts on how we can apply brahmachcharya to our asana practice.  The first is through the use of the energy locks, mula banda, uddiyana banda and jalahara banda (see ‘Yoga Speak’).  Note that jalahara banda used in breath retention is not suitable for beginners and uddiyana banda is not suitable in pregnancy, and where there is heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or abdominal problems such as ulcers or hernia.  Another way to take bring brahmachya into your yoga practice is by working with the five vayus, the energy flows in the body (new series coming in spring) http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-yamas-brahmachya.html
• Aparigraha – this translates as ‘non-covetousness’, separating what you need from what you desire.  It also encompasses appreciating what you have- life, a healthy body, family, friends, clean water, good food, etc.  In asana practice it means accepting where you are and not comparing with the person on the next mat, the person making the video or a photograph in a book. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-yamas-aparigraha.html

2. The Niyamas – there are 5 niyamas which are the disciplines we should observe with respect to ourselves

• Saucha – this translates as cleanliness.  It refers not only physical cleanliness but to purity in thought.  An asana class focusing on this would be one of cleansing twists and meditation. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-niyamas-saucha.html
• Santosha – this translates as contentment.  In asana practice the focus should be on acceptance of where you are in your yoga practice. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-niyamas-santosha.html
• Tapas – this translates as heat, perseverance.  In asana practice the focus should be on effort while at the same time bearing santosha in mind.  http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-niyamas-tapas.html
• Svadhyaya- this refers to the self-study that leads to self-discovery.  In asana practice the focus should be on learning more about yourself through the posture work.  This means tuning in to how you feel and pausing between asanas to become aware of the effect of the pose on your body. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-niyamas-svadhyaya.html
• Ishvarapranidhana – this translates as surrender to God.  This means recognising a higher force (even if you are a non-believer, you may still recognise the higher force of nature) and divine nature that is at the core of all beings.  This ‘true self’ is compassionate, peaceful, and gives unconditional love.  In asana practice connect to nature with chanting sun salutations, moon salutations etc and when poses are challenging do not struggle for a result but surrender to what is.  http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-niyamas-ishvara-pranidhara.html

3.ASANA- this refers to the postures
4.PRANAYAMA – this refers to the breath work
5.PRATYHARA – this is the withdrawal of the senses 
6.DHARANA – this refers to concentration of the mind
7.DHYANA – this refers to meditation
8.SAMEDI – this refers to connection with the divine, the recognition that all beings are connected.

Article Copyright © 2015 Flexiladiesyoga

The Yamas-Ahimsa



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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Yamas-Satya



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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Yamas-Asteya



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Monday, 25 February 2013

The Yamas-Brahmachya



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Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Yamas-Aparigraha



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Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Niyamas-Saucha

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The Niyamas-Santosha



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The Niyamas-Tapas



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The Niyamas-Svadhyaya



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The Niyamas-Ishvara Pranidhara



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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Monday)



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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Tuesday)



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Monday, 18 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Wednesday)



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A short daily yoga practice (Thursday) Focus side body



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Sunday, 17 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Friday) Focus-The back



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Saturday, 16 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Saturday) Focus-Chest Openers



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Friday, 15 February 2013

A short daily yoga practice (Sunday) Focus-Neck and Shoulders




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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day yoga special



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