On Philosophy: The Yogic Path
Simply put, yoga is an ancient technology that uses physical, mental and spiritual tools to allow an individual to steadily gain discipline, strength and self control in all areas of life, while cultivating peace of mind, expanded awareness and equanimity of mind, body and spirit.
Modern day practitioners primarily practice three aspects of the yogic path, which are asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath work), and dhyana (meditation). These tools are quite effective in ridding the body of physical toxins and the mind of stressful thoughts. However, yoga is so much more than yoga postures and deep breathing.
Traditional yoga follows an 8 fold path that has the potential to liberate the body, mind and spirit from worldly distractions, and in turn lead the practitioner to greater levels of health and happiness.
The 8 limbs of yoga are:
- Yamas (ethical guidelines)
- Niyamas (personal observances)
- Asana (physical postures)
- Pranayama (breathing excersises)
- Pratyahara (control over the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (pure consciousness)
Over the years, I have found these guidelines to challenge me within many aspects of my life. American culture is filled with deadlines, competition and instant gratification. As we strive to survive, the ego can easily trick us into regularly functioning from fight/flight mode. Under these circumstances, we are more likely to escape through an array of unhealthy habits. Stepping onto the yoga mat to detox and decompress through postures, breath work and meditation are essential components of yoga. But what are we to do once we step off of the yoga mat?
It is my understanding that the 8 limbs of yoga offer a road map, leading the ego toward an honest & disciplined lifestyle both on and off the mat. Here, the practitioner is allowed to be present with both the positive and negative aspects of self without pressure, guilt or shame. These yogic tools encourage detachment & balance, allowing the practitioner to continuously evolve into a better human being without being attached to an end result. It is my experience, that when we incorporate this type of thinking on the mat, we become stronger off the mat. And when we become stronger off the mat, we begin to see positive shifts in our surroundings.
Although the journey to self-transformation can take a lifetime, (or several), the yogic path is definitely one that can lead us toward a deeper understanding of self. I encourage all yoga practitioners to research the 8 fold path. Attend workshops, read the sutras, converse with others and explore these principles within your personal yoga practice. As we strive toward better versions of self, I trust we will gain a deeper understanding of humanity as a whole. Namaste.
Rosie Lazroe is a certified yoga teacher, master Reiki practitioner, and staff coordinator of our Natural Awakenings yoga section. 732-596-7384. RosieLazroe.com.
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