Yoga is a sophisticated system, a way of living and a guide for a free and joy-filled life lived authentically. I often refer to the phrase: “Happiness is when what we think, what we say and how we act are the same.”
Integrity is defined as the state of being whole and undivided. The opposite of that is being imbalanced, polarized, at unease with oneself and the world. Here is where YOGA comes in. We find in the practice of the pose our obstacles that we have erected and gently inhabit them and breathe through them, so as to become freer of them. We learn to come from a place of true connection with ourselves inwardly and outwardly — no longer lost or separate from our very selves.
There are eight limbs, or categories, to this system we call YOGA. The asana, or the pose is just one of them. The asana has been practiced for thousands of years, initially thought to be the vehicle in which to remove tension and blockages physically from the body allowing hours of seated meditation to occur comfortably. I will explain briefly the eight limbs. Think of them as categories, what comprises a “yogic” life; look at them lightly and with an open mind.
• YAMAS: Guidelines in terms of “restraints” in living, leading to perfect peace. (e.g. non-stealing, non- harming,etc.) There are five total.
• NIYAMAS: Guidelines given toward “observance” in living, leading to perfect freedom. (e.g. remaining clean, self study, etc.) There are five here as well.
• ASANA: Our poses that release tension and build strength.
• PRANYAMA: Awareness of the breath, and working with the breath.
• PRATYAHARA: Withdrawal of the senses, or “going inside.”
• DHARANA: Concentration, “being present in the moment.”
• DHYANA: Meditation (not my strong point)
• SAMADHI: A state of unity, realizing we are all one of an amazing creation.
Do I still have your attention? Well, then, there you have it. Those who practice yoga may not fully realize what they are accomplishing on so many levels. They just know they feel good, open and free of the discomfort that is held so well in the body’s tissues.
If we release the stress within the body (while strengthening it at the same time), then we will reduce the stress in our minds and our lives, leading to a freer, more open and happier life off the mat.
Dianne Saywell works full time as a dental hygienist at a local dental office educating and helping patients maintain their oral health. She also spends her time introducing people to and sharing the healing power of YOGA and the health it brings to the body, mind and spirit. She offers group classes and private sessions at all levels, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.