What I Mean When I Say YOGA

A couple days ago, I made a post about the new tagline I created - "Self exploration through yoga." I explained that yoga to me is more than the physical asana and I wanted to take some extra time to talk about what that means.
When I went to yoga teacher training at Pavones Yoga Center, I learned about the 8 Limbs of Yoga. This to me encompasses what yoga is to me. I find that everything in my life is yoga.

As I have learned in my training, the 8 Limbs are more like a circle flowing rather than steps. You can jump around or stick with one or practice all at once! Below I will explain each one in order but remember that they are not steps, they all interconnect. Number 5-8 is the levels of meditation so you can really chunk it up as meditation. Note that this is just the absolute basics, the introduction. This is what my understanding is of the 8 Limbs and what I have learned,  researched, and experienced.

  1. Yamas are ethical restrains. It includes: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing),  aparigraha (non-envy), and brahmacarya (restraint of sexual energy).
  2. Niyamas are relational to the yamas. It is the inner practice.  It includes: sauca (purity and cleanliness), tapas (willful discipline), santosha (contentment), svādhyāya (self study), and iśvarapranidhānā (there is not English word for this so let's just say it is kind of like your drive and your motivation).
  3. Asanas is the posture of meditation. It is what we all see what yoga is. It is the physical postures. 
  4. Pranayama is life force, it is our breath, our focus.
  5. Pratyahara is the awareness of focus. It is the outward thinking to turning inward. 
  6. Dharana is the mind staying and not jumping around. It is the focus. 
  7. Dhyana is the relaxing state of mind.
  8. Samadhi is the presence.
So there you have it. This is what I mean that everything is yoga. All aspects of life is yoga. It is that mindfulness, being present, being aware. It is something that I constantly try to be mindful of. I am not perfect but I am able to observe the things in my life that can use some changing. For example, while driving today, I cursed a car for cutting me off. I instantly noticed the violence within my being and changed my reaction quickly.

My yoga teacher told us to focus on one thing a week and observe that. One thing many people can work on, including myself, is ahimsa toward the self. We are constantly judging ourselves and we often do not have the kindest words. We are our harshest judge. The next time you think something negative about yourself, just observe. See how that feels in you and think of what you need to do to change it. This week I am going to work on svādhyāya, self study. As I say, Yoga with Karel  is about self exploration through yoga and I want to explore and study more so I can share that knowledge with you all!

 What is something that you would like to work on this week? Tell me in the comments!

Courtesy of my personal yoga notes from YTT and my wonderful teacher, Indira, for teaching me all these things.

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