did you know that the diverse practices of yoga were systematized into a formal philosophy in 400CE? Aside from the “balancing” and “stretching”, at the heart of it yoga is really about joining mind-body-spirit to be in the present moment and to be peace.
Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras, the foundational text of yoga which contained 4 chapters:
- Samadhi (bliss)
- Sadhana (practice and discipline)
- Vibhuti (power and manifestation)
- Kaivalya (liberation and karma)
The chapter on sadhana, which literally translates as “a means of accomplishing something”, contains the eight-fold path of yoga – guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. It contains information related to moral and ethical conduct, self-discipline and attention to health.
- Yama – ethical standards and behaviours, including non-violence, non-stealing, truth, restrain, non-covetous
- Niyama – self-discipline, including cleanliness, study of scripture and self, content, spirituality, austerity
- Asana – physical posture to develop discipline, concentration and openness for meditation… to be the best “container for spirit”
- Pranayama – breath control, the breath is our connection to mind and emotion, “life force”
- Pratyahara – sensory and withdrawal; draw awareness in and objectively observe our desires and habits
- Dharana – concentration, deals with the distraction of mind, precedes meditation
- Dhyana – meditation, uninterrupted flow of concentration, being keenly aware without focus
- Samadhi – bliss! when the meditator merges with focus and transcends self, connection to the “divine”, one with universe
… did you notice that asana, the part that we associate SO much with yoga in the West, is only 1/8th of the yogic path? I encourage you to think about in what other ways can you walk the path of yoga?