Reflecting on The Eight Limbs Of Yoga

Challenges on the journey to Samadhi…

– I think the biggest challenge for me is TIME. Being a stay-at-home-mum to two little girls (5yo and 18mo) and studying two qualifications, it can be difficult to balance time. Of course, having said that, I also acknowledge that it can be a case of quality over quantity.
– Changing habits and routines, and making sure they still fit with the household routines and responsibilities I have.
– I used to be so ‘good’ at single-pointed meditation, but recently I find it difficult to turn off my mental ‘to do list’, which pops up at any quiet moment just to remind me of all the things I could be doing!

I think the Eight Limbs is apt in that each of the limbs is like a branch stemming from the main body – Yoga. The limbs can be used separately, however together the limbs work together much more effectively. I’ve also heard them being described as branches, which is like the same concept – you can’t just use one branch to climb a tree. I think when The Eight Limbs of Yoga are considered in this way, you can say that you are practicing yoga even if you only consider, but it wouldn’t be considered very thorough or effective practice, and you wouldn’t be progressing towards Samadhi. ‘Best practice’ would be treating the limbs as all equally important practices.

Even though the limbs are interconnected, and not necessarily meant to be practiced in sequence one after the other, in a way there is a sort of sequence to them – some of the limbs progress on from the preceeding limbs. Yama is a broad set of guidelines that are generally accepted as ‘good morals’ in our culture, whereas Niyama becomes more specific and personal. Asana prepares the mind and body for the strength needed for the focus and awareness needed for meditation. Dharana is a sort of precursor practice to Dhyana, and each of the limbs together lead to Samadhi – enlightenment.

Lessons to introduce the idea of the Eight Limbs of Yoga would probably entail a description like I have made above, about the Eight Limbs being used separately, but more effective when practiced together. I’m not really sure specifically how I would go about teaching the Eight Limbs to students at this stage. I would probably attempt to describe each step as an individual practice that contributes to Samadhi. Yama and Niyama as guides to behaviour. Pranayama and Asana as physical practices. And Pratayhara Pranayama, Dharana and Dhyana as meditative practices aimed at moving students from distracted to focused.

-Journal Entry #3: Reflecting on The Eight Limbs Of Yoga-

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