My yoga is Ashtanga. This style focuses on an 8 limb pathway of self-discovery;
1. Yama – the fist path is made up of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing and non-hording. In other words moral restraints and how we relate and interact with others. Be a nice human!
2. Niyama – Cleanliness, contentment, purification, study and devotion. In other words, how we relate to ourselves.
3. Asana – the physical postures and how we relate to our body. In other words, what us is the west believe yoga to be.
4. Pranayama – expansion of breathe. Like I said in my first ever blog post, yoga teaches you to breath again!
5. Pratyahara – the withdrawal of all 5 senses. In other words sitting, closing your eyes, ears & nose and then experiencing all that occurs (this sounds very very basic, it’s not). This teaches us how to relate to our sense organs and takes us deeper into self-realisation.
6. Dharana – concentration and focus. In todays world where we have a million and one things to do and ten million things to distract us it has become imperative, for me, to relearn the skill of concentration. In other words, how we relate to our minds, analysing and understanding the way we work.
7. Dhyana – meditation and how to move beyond the mind.
8. Samandi – the illusive limb! The limb every yogi, young and old, is striving to experience. This is often described as ‘total bliss’. It’s meditative absorption. It transcends mind, body and spirit until we have reached a place where total ecstasy is achieved.
To gain and experience all that yoga has to offer you must practice all 8 limbs. This doesn’t have to be done all in one go, that would be impossible. We all start with asanas to make the body strong and eliminate toxins. We can then begin to incorporate other limbs into our daily lives. It can take a lifetime and needs daily attention. All teachers are students and all students are teachers. Enjoy your journey and be a nice human!