If you have read anything about yoga, then you’ve probably heard of the eight limbs of yoga.
The first limb is yama which is described as the observance of others, how we related to other people as well as the world around us. Basically, how do you interact with other people you see out on the street, your family, your friends, and your coworkers? Observe how you’re treating yourself and other people,. I’m not just talking about when you’re in a good or neutral mood. I’m specifically talking about when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to and when you’re feeling particularly nasty.
The second limb, niyama, involves self discipline. How do you relate to yourself? With what are you practicing self discipline? How is your spiritual life? Are you holding onto grudges or unforgiveness?
Thirdly, asana, is the physical form. The poses that make up a yoga practice.
Pranayama is the fourth limb. It means breath. You can’t live without breathing right? Breath is life. There are a variety of breathing techniques that can be used in a number of manners. For example, alternate nostril breathing can help with nasal congestion
Pratyahara is fifth. This is the withdrawal of the senses. Meaning, distance yourself from the things that distract you, turn your attention inwardly and upwardly, to yourself and God. It is said, then you will then have better discernment in your life to be able to spend more time on the things and people relating to your true destiny. What are some of the distractions in your life? Could it be too much television? Too much social media? Could it be relationships that you know deep down, you shouldn’t be involved in?
Sixth is dhatana, which is meditation. Meditation can be a difficult thing for many people because it means focusing on one thing for an extended amount of time, which most people may be unable to do because of this over-stimulated society that we’ve created. God calls us to meditate on His Word. By doing so, we renew our minds and align our hearts with His. He wants to spend time with you, more than just at church on Sundays. By doing so, we also gain freedom and healing. Don’t we all want to be free and healed?
The seventh limb is dhyana or worship. It is also known as deep meditation. Deep meditation on the one true God. Meditation on His Word, His promises to us.
Finally, samadhi is the eighth limb. This is bringing it all together.
These principles of yoga are not just things we do on the mat. These are lifestyle changes that can be taken off of the mat.
Something has happened to me as I’ve delved deeper into this lifestyle involving yoga from a Christian perspective. I’ve changed. I’ve found myself becoming more aware of what I’m putting into my body, what I am allowing myself to listen to/read/watch/use, and what kind of impact I’m making on the environment and ecosystem around me. I’m sure this can sound like a hippie, tree-hugger mindset. Now, I’m not saying that I myself, or anyone who studies yoga will become a vegetarian, vegan, or whatever. I’m merely pointing out what it has taught me.
I feel I’m also becoming more conscientious of the world around me. It’s hard to see a world that is dying. To see what trash is doing to the ecosystem, to see the things that we put into our bodies that could potentially subject us to diseases like cancer, and to see what we, as the human race, are doing to each other for no other reason other than pure hatred. Have you watched the news lately? Honestly, I stopped watching the news years ago because there was just nothing good in it. Everything I saw was about crime, people shooting each other, and for what reason? Hatred is all around you if you look for it. I am by no means perfect. No human is, except Jesus. Through Jesus, we have hope. Hope for the present. Hope for the future. And just as you can find negative and hatred all around if you look for it, so it is with grace, hope, love, and Jesus.
I invite you to take a moment today to see what sort of ingredients you’re putting into your body, your non-food diet, take note of the interactions you see around you, and of how nature conducts itself. What are some ways you can think of to show love to those around you?