Huh? Many might ask: Isn’t yoga like a stretching class or a great way to get a workout in? While it is true that muscles will be lengthened, strengthened, and challenged in a typical yoga class, the physical practice of yoga, the Asana, wasn’t developed so we could burn some calories and look great in those tight fitting yoga clothes. Think of it as a type of moving meditation.
I will go more into depth on this in future posts, as I go through and discuss the Eight Limbs of Yoga, including the Asana practice. Like the Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity, and the Paramitas of Buddhism, the Eight Limbs of Yoga are guidelines and practices for how to live a good life, be a good person, and maybe even attain enlightenment. They are:
- Yama (abstinence practices): a) Ahimsa (non-violence), b) Asteya (non-stealing), c) Satya (truthfulness), d) Brahmacharya (continence/control of desire), and e) Aparigraha (non-hoarding).
- Niyama (ethical observances): a) Saucha (purity/cleanliness), b) Samtosha (contentment), c) Tapas (austerity), d) Isvara Pranidhanam (surrender/devotion to God), and e) Svadyaya (self-study).
- Asana (posture practices)
- Pranayama (breathing practices)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption)
Though we may sweat, get toned, and burn off last night’s dessert in the yoga studio, yoga is not really just a workout. It is a spiritual philosphy that developed within the Hindu religion, and like the spiritual philosophies of many religions, it is a way of life.
I really like this piece. My first yoga teacher would not teach us movement until we learned to breathe ourselves into place with awareness of Yama (to know what we were with during the practice) with an intention to enter Nayama before deep relaxation. Best, best way to learn (for me). Thanks!