Living Your Yoga

 Every moment of your life is a moment of potential practice. – Judith Lasater

Many people think of yoga as a physical exercise full of various poses that may involve twisting into a pretzel. Yet the poses are only one of the eight limbs of yoga – a term that translates to “union.” Yoga is a lifestyle and sometimes life is full of twists, tribulations, and tranquility. By practicing the eight limbs below, you are able to find reflection, physical practice, and deep breathing.

1. Yamas (guidelines for interacting with the world):  These five guidelines give insights into how to act toward others and include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, and greedlessness.
2. Niyamas (guidelines for interacting with ourselves): These five guidelines focus on how you treat yourself and include purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, and letting go.
3. Asana (poses): This is what we commonly refer to as yoga in the West – down dog, cobra, and lion’s pose! The physical practice of yoga is a great way to try to still the mind and open the body.
4. Pranayama (breathwork): Breath control is a powerful tool during our daily lives. Notice how the breath becomes shallow when on deadline or waiting in a long line. Taking deep, full breaths is sure to have a calming effect.
5. Pratayahara (withdrawal of senses): This concept encourages us to avoid reacting to everything around us. Picture yourself calm, collected, and compassionate in the middle of the mall the day after Thanksgiving.
6. Dharana (concentration): This is the ability to be completely in the moment and focused on only one thing. Use mantras, breath, images, or even candles to help bring you into focus.
7. Dhyana (meditation): Turn inward, release the mind, and focus on just being in that moment. Much easier said than done but it is a critical addition to the physical practice. It is said that yogis began practicing these fabulous poses to get ready for meditation.
8. Samadhi (true bliss): This is the experience of wholeness when you are in the flow and feeling connected to all. Think inner peace, bliss, and overall freedom.

OMwork (homework with a yogic twist): Next time you find yourself debating next steps, making a challenging decision, or wondering how best to find balance, refer back to these eight limbs and find solace in this ancient wisdom. Namaste.

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