Sunday, September 4, 2011

What is Yoga Anyway

Yoga is defined simply as Union.

Perhaps that definition is not as simple as it first appears ... consider the 8 limbs of Yoga.

The first branch or limb is Yama - how we behave in the world to bring Union ... for ourselves ... with the environment ... in all our relationships

The very first Yama is Ahimsa - Non-Harming.   Always asking, "Is this the best thing I can do for myself, for others, for the world?   

The rest of the Yamas follow that Path to Unity:

Satya - Truthfulness -  accepting life as it is.

Brahmacharya - celibacy or chastity - using life's energy impeccably, not wasting it.

Asteya - Honesty - Non-Stealing - not looking outside ourselves for "things" to make us happy.

Aparigraha  - Greedlessness - Non-Grasping - not letting the need for possessions control us.

Then comes the Second Branch - Niyama - How we think in the world to bring Union.

These are the Niyamas:

Saucha - Purity - choosing those things that are nourishing to body,mind, and soul.

Santosha - Contentment - letting go of the need for control, power, security, and approval.

Tapas - Discipline - embracing transformation as the pathway to higher consciousness.

Swadhyaya - Self-Study - not confusing information with wisdom, finding joy within.

Ishvara Pranidhana - Faith - surrendering to the Wisdom of Uncertainty, letting go of attachment to Past and Future.

The Third Branch is Asana - Postures designed to bring harmony and balance to the body - surrendering to the Joy of Being.

The Fourth Branch is Pranayama - using Life Energy - the Breath to expand our state of Awareness.

The Fifth Branch is Pratyahara - withdrawing the senses - letting them come to rest so we can develop them.

The Sixth Branch is Dharana - mastery of attention and intention - what we bring our attention to grows, what we bring our intention to actualizes.

The Seventh Branch is Dhyana - becoming the Observer, The Witness - one of my teachers was a Monk and his favourite saying was "Silly Fish!!!  You are not The Fish, You are The Ocean!!!"

The Eighth Branch is Samadhi - being in pure, unbounded awareness - not withdrawing from the world, but living in the world, in Union, through that awareness.

Perhaps it is that simple ... Union.

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