The Eight Limbs of Yoga

I picked up an old Om Yoga magazine (September 2011) last night, one that I picked up at the Yoga show in London last year. I always seem to have a pile of magazines to get through and I had not got around to reading this one. Also, living in a small town, the local newsagents don’t necessarily stock the magazines I read. Well, as with most things in my life, there are, I believe, reasons why things happen, call it coincidence or synchronicity or, as I call it, my life path. Upon reading a certain article in the mag, I could clearly see why the Goddess and God had not given me the time to pick it up until now.

A message that I was perhaps not waiting for but one that has given me insight into a situation was waiting for me on page 66. The article, “Ancient Wisdom, The Yoga Sutras: Applying them to our lives today”, written by Amanda Hamilton, was almost an exact copy of the events that have transpired in my life over the past couple of days.

First of all, let me explain what the Yoga Sutras are; The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian Sutras or aphorisms that constitute the foundational text of Raja Yoga. An aphorism is an origional thought, spoken or written in a concise and memorable form. While studying to become a Yoga instructor, we worked through them. And they form some of the basic wisdom and learnings around Yogic life. Incidentally Raja Yoga, is Royal Yoga, also known as Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga. So, basically, this is almost like a bible for a Yogic way of life; a list of rules, that are more like suggestions on how to conduct oneself within your Yoga practise.

Most people think that Yoga is just a form of exercise, but it is much more than this. It is a way of living life. It is based on the Sutra’s that Patanjali wrote. It is about bringing balance into your life, living in a way that is conducive to physical, spiritual and mental health. Bringing completeness. This includes practices of

  1. Yama: Universal morality

  2. Niyama: Personal observances

  3. Asanas: Body postures

  4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana

  5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses

  6. Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness

  7. Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

  8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine

    I have been practising Yoga for about 17 years now and have been seriously studying it for four years now. By no means do I claim to know everything about Yoga, or for that matter, live a completely Yogic lifestyle. I am, after all, first and foremost, a Witch. I do eat meat and although I attempt to cultivate personal observances and inner perceptual awareness, sometimes, certain things can bring about the fight or flight emotions “Must fight back!”.It can be very difficult to live this kind of life, especially in the modern society we live in, when people’s ego’s are materialistically driven – greed, thoughts of “I must have this or that”, or even “I must win over this persons perception or ideal, to show that I am greater or better”.This was the problem of the past week, I received some very aggressive emails and it created great stress within me and I, unfortunately allowed it to. Trying to negotiate with someone who is feeling threatened by yourself, even though, you have done nothing to threaten them in any way, shape or form, can be exhausting and emotionally unforgiving. I could have allowed my thoughts to spiral out of control, what Yogi’s term “Monkey Chatter”. We all have those thoughts, that won’t switch off and they become more noticable when meditation.

    At first, I allowed myself to be led by this chatter in my mind and then, I truely thought about the situation. I did not begin teaching (and studying) Yoga for nothing! I needed to let this go, otherwise it would consume me. Negative emotions, just create more negative energy. And so, I cast my spell out into the hands of the Goddess and left it to her and the Universal energy to decide.

    I realised at some point in the heated debate that ensued electronically, that this person was quite clearly unhappy with things in their life and was reacting to things beyond their control. Perhaps at the time, I reacted to their message in a similar way, emotions stemming from similar, personal emotions.

    However, reading the article, I realised that some times you have to let things go and learn to bless people with love and light. All people. No matter the transgression they may have committed or your own perception of that incident. Forgiveness. Forgiveness will bring about peace of mind, getting rid of the jealousy, greed and hate that we so often harbour within. We all have choices on how we react to others. The saying goes, “You are only responsible for your actions, not other people’s reactions to them” and this is the same in reverse. The choices were many. Eventually, as I mentioned earlier, I cast my spell into the universe and the answer was received.

    I do have one last message: I do not claim to be balanced at all, I do however strive for that balance. But, to all of you egotistical, bigotted, aggressive, people, who claim to be enlightened and “in tune with the universe”, when, clearly you are not – we all defecate the same colour! You are no better than me and I am no better than you. I am not by any means, saying that I was correct in my reactions within and/or without, to the emails, nor am I a saint in the Eight Limbs of my life. I do however, strive for that balance. This, as a Human Being, is all that I can do.


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