Yoga is about Relating

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Ashtanga Yoga, Community, Health & Wellbeing, News, Wisdom

Ashtanga Yoga – an Eight-Limbed Path

Last week we concluded the New Year’s workshop – Meaningful Connections. In those classes, we spent some time introducing selected Sutras and interpreting them. Inspired by the learnings we practiced asanas, ending with an extensive meditation. It was heartening to see how much interest there was in this aspect of the yoga practice.

Eight Limbs of Yoga

‘Ashtanga’ is popular, and the term widely used for our physical practice. But we should always keep in mind that it actually refers to the eight limbs of Yoga – Ashtau=eight and anga=limb. This includes ethical and moral codes – Yamas and Niyamas, postures of course – Asanas, and breath control – Pranayama. We are then asked to learn about and practice the reduction of the power of the senses over us. We gain more control of their influence – Pratyahara. This leads to states of deep concentration – Dharana, meditation – Dhyana, and ultimately Ecstasy – Samadhi.

Make Healing Possible

Our bodies are regarded as the temple of our soul. Naturally we need to keep it healthy and feel comfortable in our own skin. Posture practice serves this purpose beautifully. We then move to recognising and getting to know very closely our energetic body through the practice of Pranayama– breath control. This takes care of our energy body, the level of concentration we can possibly reach, and our emotions. A comfortable physical body and the feeling of being energetic and grounded soothe our mental health. Continuous practice of Pranayama takes care of those aspects. If we combine this with a regular meditation practice we can move into deeper levels of consciousness, and there is the potential of profound healing.

Receive Guidance from a trusted Teacher

Our practice needs to be supported by some guidance. Of course, yoga classes provide you with such guidance, but if you prefer self-practice, then that can be very educational as well. In this case, it is good to consult a teacher once in a while to avoid any bad habits sneaking in. When studying the Yoga Sutras, guidance by a teacher is nearly always needed, as the meaning of the succinct phrases isn’t necessarily easy to grasp. Of course, there is a lot of good literature around, which one is able to refer to.

Equally, if you are used to attending Yoga classes always, it might be an interesting and insightful experience to once in a while practice by yourself. A healthy mix of both receiving guidance in Yoga classes and solitary practice, can be beneficial.

Yoga is about Relationships

Yoga shall create good relationships; firstly ‘relationship with yourself’. How much you understand yourself, being able to acknowledge your assets, and having compassion for your own personal challenges will greatly affect the relationships you have with your loved ones, friends and others. Humans are social beings and need connection with others. It is those connections, which can nurture us, educate us, and help us grow. They are also providing us with reassurance, love, and joy.

Learn to live with yourself

Solely practising asanas – postures, does not create healthy relationships. We need to closely look at our behavioural patterns, the way we deal with difficult situations in life, and if and how we evolve. It is through the diligent and continuous practice and study of all aspects of the eight limbs that this can occur. A good starting point is to introduce Pranayama to the practice, if so far you haven’t explored that. Then introduce meditation and some form of study to support and understand the practice you are doing. Like this you will more and more reach an understanding of the different layers of your being. It is only when you have made peace with yourself, when you can celebrate the beauty within you, and feel compassion for yourself and acceptance of your shadow, that you will be able to form loving, challenging and mutually understanding relationships with others.

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