Living the Eight Limbs of Yoga (or yoga is more than physical poses)

Living the Eight Limbs of Yoga (or yoga is more than physical poses)
Deepak Chopra's simplified Eight Limbs of Yoga

Many of my family and friends think I live in a rose-colored, unrealistic yoga world.  Yoga is a complex evolution I have been studying for seven years and plan to continue learning more my entire lifetime.

Here in the western hemisphere yoga is often thought of as a physical practice. The asanas or poses are actually only one of the eight limbs of yoga.

The poses help my MS tremendously, keep me strong, are fun and teach me to ponder and discover the other seven limbs of yoga.  The ancient practice is explained by William J.D. Duran below.

 “This art of right living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago and the foundations of yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD. This sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and provides an eight-step blueprint for controlling its restlessness so as to enjoying lasting peace.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga* are:

1. Yama or restraints are broken down into five categories: Ahisma (non harming), Satya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmachya (self restraint) and Aparigraha (non-hoarding).

2. Niyama are observances and also broken into five categories. They are Soucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (zeal for yoga), Swadyaya (self study) and Ishvarapranidhana (surrender).

3. Asana is poses, that I briefly mentioned above, and of course are the most common part of yoga here in the United States.

4. Pranayama is breath work and includes meditation.

5. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses.

6. Dharana is the intense focus.

7. Dhyana is the state of meditation.

8. Samadhi is the state of oneness or euphoria.

*Of course, the above are very loose translations of the Sanskrit.

Do you feel you honor the Yama and Niyamas while living your life?  I try to live my life this way, despite a chronic illness, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I feel little guilt, nothing is holding me back and am truthful.

Obviously I am FAR from perfect.  I mess up all the time.  The difference in my younger self is that I now know how to acknowledge my faults, honor them and strive to improve myself.

I wish the whole world followed the above limbs and unrealistically imagine an environment without pollution, violence and dishonesty.  I’m aware how hard and unlikely that would be, but I do hope we can all try to possess some of the above qualities.

Simply attending a yoga class, trying to meditate for five minutes in the morning or doing something nice for others will slowly help us get there.

Now I ask you, am I being unrealistic?  Be honest here. 

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