THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA

The word yoga translates to unite or yoke.

The word Ashtanga translates to 8 limbs.

It is a common misconception in the West that yoga = yoga poses class. Yoga is a pathway to uniting body, mind and spirit, an inward and often difficult journey of self-investigation, leading to increasing levels of harmony, bliss and peace. These practices have been investigated by yogis over millennia. Today, we have many sacred texts and the 8 limbs to guide us along this sacred path.

 

The yoga poses we practice in most yoga classes are called asana, which is the 3rd limb of yoga. Asana is preceded by the Yamas (1st limb) and Niyamas (2nd limb) are there to set our heart and intentions on the right path with internal and external observances before we even take our first posture.

It could be said that the earlier limbs prepare the practitioner for the laters limbs. An example of this is the difficulty many practitioners find with seated meditation. However they may find that asana and practice can prepare the body and mind for seated meditation. 

 

The 8 Limbs of Yoga are

 

1. Yamas 

Personal Observances

2. Niyamas

Disciplines

3. Asana

Posture

4. Pranayama

Breath Control

5. Pratyahara 

Sense Withdrawal

6. Dharana

Concentration

7. Dhyana

Meditation

8. Samadhi

Bliss, Total Peace

 

Scroll for more about each of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

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THE YAMAS

There are 5 Yamas, or personal ethical observances, that guide the heart and the mind in the direction of yoga even before going to yoga class. 

The 5 Yamas are:

AHIMSA

Non-Harming | Non-Violence | Loving Kindness

SATYA

Truthfulness

ASTEYA

Non-Stealing

BRAHMACHARYA

Restraint, Sexual Restraint

APARIGRAHA

Non-Greed, Generosity

.

THE NIYAMAS

There are 5 Niyamas, or consistent personal disciplines, that help us to purify body and mind through a combination of full effort and surrender to

God. 

The 5 Niyamas are:

SAUCHA

Purification

SANTOSHA

Contentment

TAPAS

Heat, Discipline, Inner Fire of Transformation

SVADHYAYA

Self-Study

ISVARA PRANIDHANA

Surrender to God

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ASANA

Much of what we in the West consider to be yoga is really just asana practice. Asana is a great entryway into yoga for most people because it helps to align the physical body and calm and strengthen the nervous system  body and mind for more subtle practices.

Asana, alone or with vinyasa can be deeply healing for the body. When alone, each asana constricts, twists, or opens different parts of the body, and calls for the practitioner to find a calm, even breath.

Asana practice creates harmony and flow within the body. Twisting and forward folding can be deeply healing for the internal organs. Backbending can be healing for the spine and can help to move the kundalini energy. Posture practice as a whole is deeply purifying for the body and is a beautiful method of the Swadhyaya, self-study.

 

In the Ashtanga yoga method, asana is combined with vinyasa. One vinyasa could be a full Suryanamaskar A or the combination of Chaturanga, Updog, Downdog. Vinyasa creates flow within the body after each posture, moving toxins and pushing fresh blood into the recently opened areas.

pranayama

Pranayama, the 4th limb is breath control.

 

Prana is our life force, and can even be understood to be God. ​

Pranayama can be highly energizing and can help to calm the mind for seated meditation.

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Image by David Underland
pratyahara

Pratyahara, the 5th lib, can be translated as sense withdrawal, but it's really learning to turn inward. 

Rather than focusing on the maya, or the illusive world we live in, and the people and things around us, Pratyahara calls us to look deeper by eliminating distraction. Once we can clear the field, we can see our true selves, and by extension to see reality as it is, unbothered by the shiny things around us.

Pratyahara teaches us to eliminate all distractions.

DHARANA

Dharana, the 4th limb is concentration.

 

Once we have learned how to eliminate distractions and to control the breath, it becomes easier to focus the mind. 

Dharana prepares the mind for the inward journey of meditation.

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DHYANA

Dyhana, the 7th limb of yoga, is meditation. 

It could be called the opposite of concentration. Totally letting go.

SAMADHI

Samadhi, the 8th limb of yoga, is bliss.

 

There are many paths. Find one that works for you and give it consistent effort over a long period of time. The journey is difficult and not as straightforward as we may wish it to be, but it always yields beautiful results.

All is coming.

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ashtanga

classes

 

MORNING MYSORE
All levels

 

Practice Ashtanga yoga to your own breath at your own pace. Heated room.

Those new to Ashtanga will be taught a small portion of the sequence on their first day. As you memorize the sequence, you will learn 1-2 postures at a time. 

This is the only true all levels class accessible to individuals with injuries and disabilities because you can practice at your own pace. Heated room.


GUIDED 1/2 PRIMARY SERIES

All levels

 

Guided class with full instruction. We practice up to Navasana and then skip to Urdhva Dhanurasana (backbends) and closing postures. Heated room.


 

GUIDED FULL PRIMARY SERIES

Intermediate

The full sequence with the traditional vinyasa count in Sanskrit Faster pace.  Only practitioners with a foundation in Ashtanga yoga will be allowed to join this class for your safety. Heated Room.


 

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