I think by now (I hope…) most yoga practitioners and readers of Lila are well aware that asana is merely one limb of a whole system that makes up “yoga” as laid out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. These 8 limbs work together to form the science and practice of yoga. Asana can appear to be separate from the others, and it’s true that this separation occurs in an unfortunate number of modern “yoga” practices. But, in my practice and experience, asana is inextricably entwined with the other limbs and this is why yoga is more than just gymnastics. In Ashtanga Yoga, we utilize asana as the tool to experience and practice the other limbs.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I would like to use this space to discuss each individual limb and each yama and niyama. I will share the meaning of each Sanskrit term, link interesting articles and talk a little more in depth about yoga philosophy. But, I don’t want this to be merely an intellectual pursuit, because all the talking about yoga isn’t really enough…we have to practice it! These tenets of yogic philosophy relate to our lives in very practical and tangible ways. I like to think of the Yoga Sutra (along with the Bhagavad-Gita) as the original self-help book! Both texts come from an authoritative place from which they present in a very linear and clear fashion the goal and the steps necessary to reach it.
Please stay tuned and join me in this discussion on the 8 limbs of yoga and how we can learn from these practices and experience the philosophy and meaning of yoga profoundly in our day to day lives.