The Wholesome Life: The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Patanjali is widely regarded as the author of the “Yoga Sutras.” Like many scriptural texts, often the author may be more than one individual, and it is a distinct possibility in this case as well. Regardless, the Eight-Limbed Path is attributed to the sage that most yogis know as Patanjali. The Eight-Limbed Path is that which many yogis use as their guide to wholesome living. The first two of the Eight-Limbed path provide a nice foundation for creating a genuinely fulfilling life – they are known as the Yamas and Niyamas. The secret to happiness 🙂
There are five Yamas – or ‘to do’s – that provide for our interaction with the world around us…our attitudes and things we should avoid.
1. Ahimsa – or ‘non-harming’ or ‘non-violence’
Treating all life, animals, nature and ourselves with utmost respect and dignity, approaching life with harmony and compassion
2. Satya – ‘truthfulness’
Being truthful to others, but also ourselves, finding that unchanging truth and essence within ourselves
3. Asteya – ‘non-stealing’
Trying to recognize the abundance of our lives, giving gratitude for that which we are and understanding that it is exactly what we need in that moment
4. Brahmacharya -‘celibacy’
In today’s world that means directing our energy inwards and away from external desires so that we can recognize our internal peace and bliss
5. Aparigraha – ‘non-greed’ or ‘non possessiveness’
Taking just what we need and letting go of it when we no longer need it
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And then there are the Niyamas – or ‘to-do’s for our interaction with ourselves – or our attitudes and things we should cultivate within ourselves.
Ceanliness, or purity from a physical state as well as removal of negativity from our mind
This refers to contentment, gratitude and appreciation of the richness of our lives
This can be seen as discipline, or systematically challenging ourselves to create inner strength
Self study and looking into ourselves to discover our divine self, self-reflection
5. Isvar Pranidhana
The ultimate goal of yoga, or union with the divine, and that is achieved after all of the above have been lovingly cultivated and nurtured so that you can surrender yourself to the higher power
All of these together make for a happy fulfilling life. But as I’ve mentioned before, nothing works as well as forgiveness. Forgive yourself, and forgive others around you. Everyone. We are all striving for the same thing…happiness. And we are all at different parts of that same journey, so forgive, even if you can’t forget. And keep applying all of the above, one at a time or all together – in any combination. It’s all good!
Now Patanjali has mentioned 6 other paths to yoga (or union), and those 6 we shall read about next week.