You May Be a Yogi Without Realizing It!
According to the foundations of yoga introduced by Pantanjali's The Yoga Sutras, Yoga Asanas (poses) are one of eight limbs or branches of our practice. To be quite up front, the yoga asanas were not even part of yoga until Pantanjali introduced the concept, and he did not even describe the postures in his guidelines. Yoga asanas are simply a tool for us to use to find an opening within ourselves, mentally and physically, to tap into the space beyond our five senses--to find our blissful subconscious, our Spirit, our Source. The other limbs that are just as valuable and necessary to living and creating a meaningful and purposeful life, and to reduce suffering, but are so often ignored or forgotten. So why has yoga REALLY been around for thousands of years? Let's review!
- Moral codes (sigh...). Yes these do show up in our yoga practice, as well, and include non-harm, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual responsibility, and non-possessiveness.
- Guidelines for personal behavior. These include cleanliness internally and externally, contentment, discipline, spiritual studies and growth, and devotion to love/Spirit.
- Postures and the mastery of the body in order to find stillness in mind and body! Ironic!
- Breathing techniques such as Ujjayi (Darth Vader) Breathing, Alternate Nostrile Breathing, Breath of Fire, etc)
- Withdrawal of senses.
- Concentration and focus.
- Meditation (there are over 25 styles!)
- Merging with Spirit/Divine/Source of Life
Remember, these are guidelines to help reduce the suffering in your life. It is not as Pantanjali shared them with the world so that we would be damned to some sort of hell in the after-life if we do not follow them. Furthermore, know that you are human. You will find it challenging to stay disciplined with these guidelines, and this is normal! However, I am willing to bet that you, at some point, have already integrated one or more of these methods or concepts into your life. Whether you realized it at the time or not, you were "doing" yoga! Wow, doesn't that make yoga less intimidating and more accessible? Yoga is not some activity that is unobtainable because in order to be a yogi you do not have to be an acrobat, gymnast, or even touch your toes! A good teacher, mentor, friend, or studio will help you find the right limb to start your yogic practice with and then the sky is the limit with your journey and expansion from there!
Last, but not least, enjoy the journey, the transitions, and the challenges along the way! After all, what value and reward would there be if it was a completely easy path?
I hope this message finds you in peace.
Sincerely and with Love,