The spring semester is over for me but that does not mean I’m off the hook from classes! In order to graduate as quickly as possible, I added on 3 sessions of classes for this summer, and let’s just say its not the walk in the park I thought it would be! 3 weeks of an intensive textiles course really swept the rug from under my feet as I was not expecting it to be so difficult. But I must say, the best part of my day was attending my yoga class- It allowed me to forget about the stress and anxiety of taking a difficult course while focusing on my body and breath. I’ve practiced yoga off and on for about 4 years now, so the basic poses came naturally to me, but there were also some amazing things I learned about breath, mindset, and lifestyle. One of the most interesting things I learned about are the 8 Limbs of Yoga.
We briefly discussed each limb in class before our practice one day, but I was so interested in this topic that I did some additional research outside of class and WOW! What a beautiful way to stroll through life! What I mean by this is yoga is more than Lululemon leggings, green smoothies and colorful mats- no, yoga is a lifestyle! The poses that you may do in a yoga class are just one part of the practice, but there are 7 other limbs that work into the yoga experience. But have no doubts about this- you don’t have to be a master yoga instructor to experience the 8 limbs of yoga, you can start today. So today, I want to share with you my highlights from the limbs of yoga, and how you can incorporate them into your everyday life!
**Disclaimer: Yoga is not a religion. While it does borrow ideologies from ancient religions and Hinduism, it is not a religious practice. Consider it an extension of your mindfulness practice!
And with that being said, let’s jump right into it!
The first limb is Yama, which has everything to do with one’s ethics. This limb breaks down further into the 5 Yamas, one being Ahimsa which is the principal of non harming. This is the reason why some people who thoroughly practice yoga are vegetarian or vegan, meaning the food they consume does not come from a place of harm. I personally take this as not being harmful in the things I say, and always coming from a place of non-judgement and understanding. Another Yama is Asteya which means not to steal. We all know stealing is bad, but this does not just include material or physical things- it also means that you shouldn’t steal or take credit for another person’s work, or even steal someone else’s ideas! So how can you incorporate Yama into your everyday life? By simply being a good person! Don’t harm yourself or others, spread positivity, avoid stealing by all means, and always tell the truth- don’t spread lies.
The second limb, Niyama, is about self-discipline and for some, practicing their religion of choice. The same way that some people say grace before a meal is an example of Niyama at work. There are also 5 Niyamas, one being Saucha which stands for cleanliness. When I get overwhelmed with school or in general, my house is a representation of my mind. Things often get messy, dishes pile up, my closet becomes a mess- you get it. As someone who understands that it is extremely difficult to keep things orderly, regardless, it must be done. Ever since I discovered the Niyama of Saucha, I have made sure to always clean up after myself every chance I get, and to really form a habit of cleanliness. My favorite Niyama of all is Samtosa, which means contentment. As I have discussed in previous posts like What is Mindfulness??, Mindfulness is a constant practice. But when the going gets tough, it can be very difficult to stay positive. This is why it takes a great deal of self discipline to remain positive in the face of adversity- but it absolutely can be done!! The easiest way to practice Niyama is by always being content with what’s to come and what you already have, and also practicing cleanliness every single day.
Asana is the literal practice of yoga poses! While this may not be something that you do every day, it is something that you can regularly incorporate into your week. The Asana goes perfectly with my next favorite limbs of yoga…
Pranayama & Dhyana
Pranayama is all about the control of your breath which works hand-in-hand with the limb of Dhyana, or meditation. When we are nervous and anxious, or even scared, our breath becomes constricted and short. With the practice of Pranayama, it allows you to take control of that breath to regulate your emotions. My favorite quote is to “Just Breathe,” and it is so perfect for this limb. Breathing is such an automatic function that sometimes, we forget to do it!
Dhyana is the practice of meditation, which can be as basic as sitting with your eyes closed and quietly breathing. Meditation is a great way to reset your mind and bring things into perspective. It allows you to simply focus on breath, while allowing the mind to be still. As one article I read puts it,
“Dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus.”
Meditation is such an important part of my day, and I often use it with my manifestation practice to say personal affirmations and mantras to manifest my desires! While you may not have time to practice Dhyana every day, try for once a week- but make sure you practice Pranayama everyday by remembering to breathe, and using that breath to regulate your emotions.
There are a 2 more limbs of yoga that I did not discuss in this post, but please note that this does not make them any less important than the limbs that I mentioned. In addition, for some of the limbs, there are additional branches that go even deeper into the yoga practice. If you are interested in reading more about the limbs of yoga, check out these great articles below:
- The Eight Limbs of Yoga- Yoga Journal
- 8 Limbs of Yoga: A Brief Overview – mindbodygreen
- 8 Limbs Yoga – About Yoga
Again, you don’t have to be a super flexible yogini in order to add the 8 limbs of yoga into your mindfulness practice- you can start at any point in time! As my mother always tells me, it doesn’t cost anything to be a good person, so if not for yourself then do it to put a positive impact on the world around you.
Thank You so much for reading this post! A little bit about the outfit I am wearing in this post:
The photos were taken by my beautiful friend Jannely! The blouse is an old scarf that I tied up and the joggers are from Target. My shoes are Sam Edelman, the earrings are from Kendra Scott, and the hair and makeup are by yours truly!!
I can’t wait to pump out some more wonderful content for you all. Please leave me feedback in the comments and I’ll see you next time!