One of my key recent learnings has been Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The Eight Limbs are:
- Yama (Restraints)
- Niyama (Observances)
- Asana (Posture)
- Pranayama (Breath Control)
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses)
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samadhi (Pure Contemplation)
Each limb provides useful guidance on its own, but collectively they provide a roadmap to living a meaningful and purposeful life. The structure offered in these teachings has resonated strongly with me –as looking back on my own yoga journey, I’ve unknowingly sought out and struggled with them in my own ways.
My journey with yoga started from injuries.
In high school I became an avid gym-goer and amped up the intensity when I joined my university’s crew team. However, being keen and excited about weightlifting didn’t mean not getting injured –actually it happened probably too often. Chiro visits and massage therapy became a regular part of my life from the age of 20. I saw specialists but their assessments and treatments always felt superficial.
I first took up yoga to help with these injuries. I didn’t want to listen to the doctor who told me I shouldn’t necessarily have expectations to run or jump again at my young age. I wanted to focus on my spine to build up strength, stability and regain flexibility. Away from the weights, the low impact nature of yoga offered me an active approach to healing.
The universal appeal of yoga also allowed it to be one of the few activities that I could do anywhere as I’ve moved around with my career. DC, London, Hong Kong –and now here at Tirisula in Singapore, I’ve been fortunate to find active yoga communities and great teachers to learn from in each city.
Through these various life moves, a large part of why I’ve stayed with yoga is the confidence it has helped me develop as I grow capable of doing new asanas, coupled with the sense of calm and feeling refreshed that I always have at the end of each class.
A deepening desire to expand what I was finding within the classroom into my everyday life has promoted an evolution of my practice. In particular, this has been with an increased focus on incorporating meditation in my personal life, and on asserting myself genuinely and confidently in my professional life.
Learning the Eight Limbs…
When I look at the Eight Limbs, they prioritize many of the same values I have been trying to develop in myself to be a happy and productive adult.
Yamas and niyamas are restrictions and disciplines that I see as beneficial in shaping how I approach myself and others. Asanas and pranayama are key to keeping a healthy body. The higher limbs outline an approach to developing clarity of mind.
As I forge ahead on my quest for self development, learning the Eight Limbs has been encouraging and welcomed, as they provide structure to an approach I was trying form for myself.