THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA
Year ago I had no clue what yoga was at all. I can’t even say that I had the thought, “what is yoga”?
I found myself at a womanʼs retreat where yoga was offered early in the morning on the beach, being open minded and curious I took a towel from the hotel room and joined about 30 other ladies.
I had no clue what was about to happen.
As class began I felt like an infant…the wind blew against my cheek with grace and ease, and the feeling of the sand and sounds of the waves I experiences as if for the first time ever.
All the women around me faded into one; I felt expansive and connected to something I didnʼt even know existed.
I knew in that moment that I would not only be a student of yoga but that I was to be a teacher-which was a scary thought but the feeling was comforting and felt like home.
After practicing yoga for just a short bit I found it very interesting when I mention the word yoga – so many people respond to me by saying-”Oh, Iʼm so not flexible”
So let me first say that Yoga isnʼt about getting yourself into a pretzel, and if it takes that to be enlightened Iʼm not sure I want to sign up for that one…so rest assured Mimi and I will not be torking you today to put your foot behind your ear.
My indirect teacher, who left the body several years ago, Swami Satchidananda explains very well in this quote what Yoga has been for me in my life in a nutshell.
“Your ultimate goal is to be happy. Where is the happiness? Within you. If you want to have permanent happiness, it will never come from outside.
If somebody makes you happy today, the same person will make you unhappy tomorrow. You are happiness and peace personified. Find that happiness and peace within you.”
I think we all know this at some level and I truly believe the beauty of UU is that we support whatever path it takes for you to unveil that happiness that lies within.
As in any religious or Spiritual path there are variations of the Yogic path, depends on who your teachers were and what part of India they were from. Patanjali Maharishi practiced what is called Raja Yoga, known as the Royal Path.
In this Royal Path there are 8 Limbs of Yoga known as the: Yamas, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi. (reference your order of service for definitions as we go along)
These 8 Limbs of Yoga are not to be seen as different stages but rather different entry points into an expanded sense of self through interpretations, choices, and experiences that remind you of your essential nature.
These are the components of the Raja Yoga, the royal path to union. In fact the actual word Yoga mean union (sometimes defined as-to yoke the mind body and spirit-sacred union of the Divine).
So letʼs explore the first 4 Limbs of this Royal Path…
SIDE NOTE….this is out of order from any book and probably any teacher but because Iʼm with my amazing family at UU I feel itʼs ok to be a bit of a renegade and share with you what makes sense for this particular service in the time that I have…