#Hy8foldpath: The Eight Limbs of Yoga in Eight Days!
“By the practice of the eight limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment.”
The yoga system of Patanjali is known as the Eightfold Path, which leads to the final goal of the soul’s oneness with Spirit. (from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
Angela Green, c0-owner Honor Yoga Aerial & Acro studio, came to yoga on the heels a radical change in her well-being. Yoga, she says allowed her to stay there and to grow into that well-being and to see it’s many manifestations unfold. Having come to yoga as most of us do, through the physical practice, she found herself on a path, journeying through The Eight Limbs of Yoga. It’s this path that she wants to ignite in her fellow yogis, starting with a somewhat unusual yoga challenge – the Eight Limbs of Yoga in eight days!
During Angela’s yoga awakening, a friend gave her a copy of “Meditations from the Mat” by Rolf Gates. The book, takes a fresh, simple, day by day look at what is defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the Eight Limbs of Yoga. In Gates hands, this ancient yet ever relevant practice is presented in short daily meditations. It was through this gateway that Angela then began to understand her practice as part of a larger journey toward self-awareness and reflection.
The Sutras tell us that through “the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment.” (Sutra Book II, 28). In Gates words, whether we can name it or not, “it’s a hunger that develops with the practice, a new way of responding to daily events and challenges.” The path as it’s defined in the Sutras is divided into eight “limbs” or stages, one of which is Asana. Knowing this, we already understand that our poses, while essential, are only a little part of the whole of the Raja Yoga practice.
But, there is good news ahead!
As Angela says, “we can not underestimate ourselves. We are already on this path, our practice is already clearing the way. It occurs in bits and pieces.” With more instruction and study, she knows that every yogi is able to see themselves on this path. When we take Savasana, we rest, we practice Pratyahara, withdrawing our senses. When we over-do or under-do in our practice, we become aware of Brahmacarya, the need to moderate our energy, to be mindful and contain. When we sit in stillness at the end of practice aware of our breath but uninvolved with our thoughts, we practice Dhyana, meditation.
The idea of covering the eight limbs in eight days is meant to bring raise greater awareness to our practice and what more it can do. “There is a linear format to the limbs as it’s defined in the Sutras; however the challenge will show us that we circle and cycle through them.” It’s a larger journey with many small ones taking place every time we practice, every time we come in truth to our mat and move through our asana we can experience the limbs along the path in practice. With Gates as her mentor, Angela is inspired to support everyone in the shedding, cleansing, clearing at the heart of our practice.
Look for more on these powerful beautiful words, their meaning, and their expression through #Hy8foldpath.
Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga
1. Yama (moral conduct): non-injury to others, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, non-covetousness
2. Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
3. Asana: right posture
4. Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
5. Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
6. Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
7. Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
8. Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Spirit