The Other 6 (of the 8 limbed path)
We were discussing the eight limbed path of yoga – as described by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. We’d left off after discussing the Yama and the Niyama, each of which had 5 aspects to them, and addressed our conduct and attitudes in our life.
The next six are as follows:
Asana – literally referring to our seat, but figuratively much more than that. The Yama and Niyama prepare us for asana, or postures that we employ in a yoga class. Through the discipline of postures we are able to cultivate an inner strength and a balance between our physical being and our spiritual being.
Pranayama– this is the breath that sustains us and nourishes us at every point in our life. When we achieve mastery over the breath, we achieve mastery over the energy that is our essence, our Prana. We are able to create heat in the body through pranayama, and help purify the subtle channels of energy within our physical self.
Pratyahara – this is the active effort of withdrawing our senses from the physical world and looking inwards. By directing our energy inwards and simply watching our senses unfold without reacting, we start to detach ourselves from the mundane
Dharana – and this brings us to the act of single minded focus. We try to move beyond the stage of simply observing the antics of the mind, and come to a single pointed object of our effortless concentration EASY! This is the first stage of true meditation.
Dhyana – we have now moved along the spectrum of union with our higher source, there is no effort in the calm, and no need to force the keen focus of dharana, and there is a sense of infinity
Samadhi- you have crossed from one end of the spectrum to the complete other side, where the daily grind no longer has an impact on you, because there is an inner realization of oneness with everything, everyone, and everywhere – there is only the truth and there is joy
It seems like an impossibility – but there is a path that leads there…and that means it can be done. 🙂 Maybe not today, or tomorrow….but one step at a time. One breath at a time.
Asana was traditionally practiced so that we would have the strength and the stamina to sit in meditation without discomfort and physical distraction. And though few of us have the option to practice meditation for hours on end, even a simple 15 minutes can bring about profound changes that impact every moment of our lives.
This is a nice video that helps to bring about a calmness to get your started: