Living The 8 Limbed Path In Today’s World: On Asanas…

Living The 8 Limbed Path In Today’s World: On Asanas

In part one, we explored the first two limbs, the Yamas and the Niyamas. Here we will dive into the third limb of yoga, Asana.

The 8 limbs of Yoga outline a spiritual path to transformation beginning with the ethical values, followed by the integration of body and breath. Each of the 8 limbs are equal to the others and necessary. One is not greater than the other.

The Eight Limbs can be described as the Tree of Yoga. The ethical precepts, the Yamas – absence, regulation – form the rootsl; while the Niyamas, the inner values, form the trunk. Asana, which is steady and comfortable posture, forms the strong supporting branches. Pranayama, life force, is represented by the leaves, opening to receive the life force energy. Pratyahara, turning the senses inward, represents the safe guarding the trees vital energy. Dhyana, meditation, is the trees fragrant blooms flowering as Samadhi represents the fruit of Yoga as Unity.

So after reading the description of the 8 limbs, how do we incorporate this ancient concept into our modern everyday life? The lives we live today vary greatly from that of even 10 years ago, 20 years ago. Every thought requires an answer. If we are not doing, we are considered lazy. Giving lightning fast responses to anything we may request is what has become the normal everyday life. News is delivered within minutes to all media outlets, cell phones, apps and email. Depression and anxiety are at an all time high and the drug companies are standing by with a “fix” for all ailments, at what ever cost we are willing to pay. Communities are dwindling, neighborhoods seem to be mostly homes with out a connection to the people.

How can we as an individual make a difference? How can living the 8 limbs make a difference?

The asanas

Asana, Sutra ll~46 is the posture that brings comfort and steadiness. Those words sound simple until we sit in a chair for five minutes, begin to notice how many times an adjustment to being comfortable is made. In a traditional yoga class we are taught to breathe into the tension and the exhale releases the tension from the body. This is very true however, a practicing yogi must first tune into the body to begin to notice and allow the mind to rest with ease and the breath to flow with ease.

So how can we take this concept into a daily life activity like our jobs? Can we find this comfort and steadiness when confronted with work issues? I believe with some effort this is possible. Awareness is our greatest friend in all situations. First is to notice, then to respond unlike reacting. To react is usually from a place that is defensive, while responding is from a thoughtful, aware place. Comfort in the body is in the alignment, breath flows with ease and a steady posture is found.  We can apply this to walking, sitting on the metro, in our car, at our desk everywhere our regular day may take us.

When we free our body from toxins, the body moves with ease. We are then free of tension and stiffness. Humanity focusing on the strength of steel alongside its flexibility, unlike iron will create a strong force.

The human body can accomplish this by eating good food and only allowing positive material for the mind and an open heart. What we feed our mind, body and soul is exactly what we will get out of our mind, body and soul. If all we allow to enter the mind is negative information that creates hatred and disease, then that is what the mind will give us back.

If all we allow to enter our mouth are foods that are full of toxins, then all we can expect from the body is toxic stiffness and disease. Our soul is absorbing all and creates a soul that is in direct relation to what we allow to enter. Asana, a comfortable steady mind, body and soul.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda; 2012


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Emily Coyner

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Emily is a healing coach, she uses meditation, yoga and good food as her modalities to a life of balance…

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