A friend of mine says she attempts to conquer one of the eight limbs of yoga every year. I think it’s wonderful and highly admirable but I’m not sure I have the patience (perhaps that’s the problem). Eight years to get it right?? Does it really take a year to understand and implement each limb? If we get it right in 6 months can we skip on to the next one? On the other hand maybe she’s on to something. Think of it this way, 8 years over the average lifetime (which in the States is 78.8 years) is really not that long, in fact to learn to live like a yogi and find enlightenment in eight years probably means you’re spiritually turbo charged. Think about it – how many people do you know who’s achieved this state?
Let’s take a look at the limbs:
- Yamas. Turns out this is a bit of a tease. It’s not actually one thing, it’s five (does that mean another year for each of those as well?) These are a set of restraints, a sort of Yogic code for good behaviour and although they’re excellent guidelines for living, they’re not exactly a snap to implement on a consistent basis. Here we go: 1. Ahisma (non harming), 2. Staya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation), Aparigraha (non-hoarding).
- Niyamas. Guess what – there’s five of these too. These are observances, simple, straightforward but not easy. 1. Soucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Svadyaya (self-study), Ishvarapranidhana (surrender).
- Asana. Number three on the hit parade is the actual physical aspect of yoga (I wonder how many people knew that).
- Pranayama. The importance of breath. Just out of interest, how many times a day do you find yourself holding your breath?
- Pratyahara. Withdrawal of the senses. In other words stopping the mindless mental chatter, so when you’re in yoga class try not to mentally write a to do list.
- Dharana. Intense focus. In other words “no multi tasking.”
- Dhyana. State of Meditation. Tricky. Let it all go and just be.
- Samadhi. State of Oneness. Absolutely blissed out.
How’s your journey going? What do you think, eight years or a lifetime?