Recently I have been spending more time reconnecting to the essence of yoga. I am committed to my daily practice, not only on the mat but also studying some yogic texts and doing lots of Svādhyāya (self-study, self-reflection). Svādhyāya is essential for any yoga practitioner. It helps us to go deeper, to gain a better understanding of ourselves and of the nature of all things. All of this has brought me to having reflection about what is yoga really? As many of you know yoga means 'to join' or 'to yoke' or 'to unite'. What are joining, yoking or uniting?
Our reality and our nature as human beings is characterised by dualities and polarities. We separate our mind and our body, we label things as good or bad, we attach our identity and our worth to what we have, what we have achieved and what we should or should not do in order to be successful, happy or perceived as such. This over- identification creates suffering and resistance within our being and makes us feel as if we are always broken and incomplete. How can yoga solve this division, this feeling of being incomplete? First of all, since yoga is about union, we are no longer required to put all the broken pieces of ourselves together. Because in fact, we are already a whole, we are complete as we are. We might be experiencing challenges in life, but they do not make us any less of a whole or complete. When we grasp this, we can truly awaken a state of harmony from within, awaken the inner knowing that we are exactly where we need to be right now, right here. How do we put it into practice? Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. It is actually a process of self-discovery and a process of creating a union between body, mind and soul so we can live more fully, in a more connected way. Although it's not just a physical practice, the practices that we do on the mat : pranayama, asana, meditation and Yoga Nidra do serve us as tools to develop more awareness - awareness is the key to any kind of growth. They also serve us as tools to nourish our physical body, which is the home for us in this life. On a more subtle level, yogic practices help to balance the energy within our being to create a state of balance in the body and mind, to reduce the fluctuations of the mind, to help to release emotional blockages. All of this helps us cultivate a state of balance and connection. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the traditional foundation of yoga. It talks about the eightfold path of the yoga practice. This path is known as the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’, which serves as a guide for anyone who is dedicated to creating a union between body, mind and spirit.
Each of the Eight Limbs encourages a way of living with greater integrity, self-control, respect for the natural world, and a deeper connection with the spiritual aspects of existence.
These eight limbs should be practices together
Yamas - Five universal, ethical and moral observances to live by (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness)
Niyamas - Five spiritual and self-discipline observances (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, study of scriptures and surrender to God)
Asana - physical posture, originally intended only for seated meditation, but more recently adapted to encompass all physical yoga practices
Pranayama - breathing exercises to control or expand the flow of prana (vital life force)
Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the senses
Dharana - Single pointed concentration for example through focusing the mind on one object/ sensation or focusing on a mantra
Dhyana - Meditation in which the mind is quiet and still
Samadhi - Liberation or blissful union with the Divine
Check out some of the upcoming offerings here to explore yoga in all of the aspects