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Monday, September 19, 2011

8 Limbs of Yoga

In brief the Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

1. Yamas: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Moderation in all things, Non-stealing, Non-covetousness.

2. Niyamas: Purity - internal & external, Contentment, Austerity, Study of the sacred texts, Living with an awareness of the Divine.

3. Asanas: The yoga postures designed to purify the body and prepare it for the task of internal disciplines.

4. Pranayama: Regulation and control of the breath.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses in order to still the mind.

6. Dharana: Concentration.

7. Dhyana: Meditation.

8. Samadhi: Unity with all things.

The first two limbs suggest ways to live our lives in order that there are no interference within oursleves or with another person in a negative way so that we can live in harmony internally and externally. The Yamas (self restraint) and the Niyamas (self observance) are very similar to the Old Testament's Ten Commandments. One might wonder if this is coincidental. Being non-violent, always telling the truth, practicing moderation in all things, not being greedy and being pure in mind and body are also very similar to what Jesus taught.

The Niyamas encourage internal purity which goes along with moderation in all things. Internal purity in yoga is an important aspect because the body is basically the temple in which the Spirit lives or it could be the other way around; the body living within the temple of the Spirit. The Self is the caretaker of the body and mind and its position is to keep the body pure and healthy. To the yogi this means refraining from excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and food. The use of drugs and stimulants is a no-no. Fresh, clean water, teas, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish are the mainstays for a yogi; but actually a yogi can eat anything as long as it is considered healthy to eat. Moderation is the name of the game.

Sacred Texts will be to topic of the next post.

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