Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell

Cozy Yoga Life Ep03 How to Live Like a Yogi, Eight Limbs of Yoga

February 01, 2024 Shannon Caldwell Season 1 Episode 3
Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell
Cozy Yoga Life Ep03 How to Live Like a Yogi, Eight Limbs of Yoga
Show Notes Transcript

Derived from the classical text "The Yoga Sutras" by Patanjali, the 8 limbs provide a holistic guide to living a purposeful and harmonious life. From ethical guidelines to physical postures, breath control to meditation, these limbs offer a comprehensive roadmap for anyone seeking a more mindful and balanced existence.🧘‍♂️

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You're listening to Cozy Yoga Live, the podcast for yoga teachers who crave more from their practice and lives. I'm Shannon Codwell, and I'll be your guide on this journey of simplicity, self care and self discovery. So let's cozy up, unwind, and dive into today's episode. Hello Cozy Crew, in this episode I'm going to Do an overview of the foundations of yoga, those guiding principles that help set the stage for weaving yoga into all the different aspects of your life. or what you might call living the life of a yoga or a yoga lifestyle. I love seeing how individuals take those guiding principles and mold them to what interests them and motivates them, brings them peace and harmony. And there's so many different ways and so many different combinations that you can create that it truly becomes a personalized and customized practice based on who you are as an individual. To me, that's one of yoga's beauties, is that ability to appeal to so many different people. If you like A and I like B, yoga provides an A and a B so that we can both be excited and passionate and adopt these principles into our lives. Unfortunately, what's happened over the last couple of decades is that the term yoga has become synonymous with one concept, and that's postures. And to me that's really sad because there are so many different ways of practicing yoga that. Because yoga is synonymous with postures, there's too many people out there who won't come to yoga because they think it's the postures and they believe, Oh, I can't do the postures. I can't do the splits. I can't do that contortion of my body. Therefore, I can't practice yoga. And there is nothing that is further from the truth than that. In today's episode, I am going to highlight all the limbs of yoga, all the different ways that you can practice yoga. And there are eight of them. Some of you may have never heard of the eight limbs. Some of you may have heard them in passing, but truly too few of us dig deep and study them and actively apply them to our lives. And I hope that this episode changes that for some of you. Let's dive into the eight limbs of yoga. It's helpful to know where do these eight limbs come from? Where do these guiding principles originate from? And they originate from a yoga text called the yoga sutras. Yoga sutras, they were said to have been systemized about 600 And they were B C E. Now, notice that is systemized. We're not really sure when they were actually authored or who actually authored them. Credit is given to a man by the name of Patanjali for organizing or systemizing these aphorisms or sentences into a logical Progression. That's where we get sutra. It means threat because each of the sentences were short sentences that could be easily memorized so that it could be passed from teacher to student, teacher to student. And it was typically done through memorization because this was before people could readily read and write. So they had to have a way of Easily memorizing and being able to study and dig into these sutras. So sutra is a thread or meaning something short that weaves everything together. Within this yoga text, the yoga sutras, it's divided into four books or what you might think of as four sections. And we find that eight limbs in the second book, practice. Limb number one is Yama, and there are five of these. You'll also notice when we get to Niyama, which is the second limb, there are five Niyama as well. So really, we've got Ten and then plus six. So we really have about 16 Guiding principles that help us create that foundation for that yogic lifestyle. Looking at limb number one and those five Yama or restraints one way to think about Yama is this is the way in which we want to interact with our external world and there's a Ahimsa, which is non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, moderation, and non greediness. Limb number two is Niyama, and if Yama is our restraint or how we're going to interact with our external world, Niyama is an observance, and this is how we're going to interact with our internal world. And as I mentioned, there are five. Cleanliness. Contentment, burning impurities, self study, and surrender to the divine. Limb number three. This is the limb that most practitioners and aspiring yoga teachers are familiar with, and that is asana, which in modern terms now relates to the postures or the exercises and stretches that we do. Traditionally, thousands of years ago, asana was what you set upon to meditate. So that could have been the dirt. It could have been, Banana leaves woven into a mat, it could have been a rock. So traditionally asana meant something very different than what it means today. And the more modern usage of asana has only been around for about 100, 150 years. One thing that I like to point out when I'm doing yoga teacher training is that In the whole hundred and ninety eight sentences included in the Yoga Sutras text there's only two sentences dedicated to asana and I'm sharing the one that gets quoted the most that is that asana should have the dual qualities of steadiness and ease. What does steadiness and ease mean? There's certainly a lot of interpretations. That's one of the things about the Yoga Sutras being written in Sanskrit, there's always different ways of breaking it down and interpreting it. For me, steadiness and ease means that if I'm practicing a posture, I'm able to maintain that posture with effort that doesn't change my breath and that I'm not pushing myself so hard that I feel like I'm struggling to hold that posture. How do we know if we're not practicing steadiness and ease in our asana? One of the best indications is to always follow your breath. If your breath is coming in short, shallow breaths, Pants, or you're breathing extra hard, or your breath is just changed in any different sort of way beyond deep and consistent. That's a good sign that we probably need to back out of the effort that we're putting into that posture. Be a little bit more gentle until your breath evens out once again. Limb number four is pranayama. This is made up of two Sanskrit words, pran, meaning life force, and ayama, meaning extension. So together we have pranayama, which is life force. extension. If you're new to the eight limbs pranayama, this idea of life force extension can feel very esoteric, not quite tangible for you to get a handle on that. What does it mean to extend my life force? The way that begin to understand this concept is through conscious breathing. The beautiful thing about breath is that it's automatic and it happens unconsciously. Your brain is taking care of that without any thoughts or efforts from you. Once we become present minded, where we're really focusing on deep quality inhalations and exhalations, that's when we're changing from unconscious breathing into conscious breathing. And once we've moved into conscious breathing, we've laid that first brick for practicing pranayama. What I tell my aspiring teachers in training is that you can have breathing without pranayama, but you cannot practice pranayama without breathing. Limb number five, Pratyahara. This means sense withdrawal. One way to think about sense withdrawal is that if you were to sit still, say in a meditation position, that you would no longer be in Tempted by the sensations of your body, you would no longer be distracted by sense, by sounds, by twitches and ticks that are happening in your body. You would move beyond that. You might have that sensation, but you wouldn't be drawn from it. You wouldn't be distracted by it. You'd be able to say, Oh, I have an itch on my nose. Okay. And move on from that. We have to have sense withdraw before we can move into limb number six, which is dhyana. Translated that means concentration. You have to be where you are no longer distracted by those little outside cues, those Internal sensations. Once you concentrate long enough, then you're moving into limb number seven, which is meditation. To help you better understand the concept of concentration versus meditation and how they work together, I want you to think of concentration, or dhyana, as a single pearl. One pearl that you have found inside of a shell. When you have that single moment of concentration, that single pearl of concentration, that's dhyana. When you begin to piece the pearls together, string them together one after the other, that is when you've moved into meditation. So concentration or dhyana is a single pearl. Meditation or dhyana, that is a string of pearls. So even when you put two pearls together, you've moved from that single point of concentration into the practice of meditation. Another interesting note here about the Yoga Sutras. If you get into the studying of the yoga sutras beyond just the eight limbs that I'm talking about in today's podcast episode is that the entire practices of yoga, not only are they there to bring us peace and harmony, they're there to prepare us for meditation. In the Yoga Sutras, the ultimate aim is to be able to meditate because once you are able to meditate for lengths of time, consistently over time, that is going to lead you to limb number eight. which is Samadhi, roughly translated in to bliss. If you are meditating consistently, you're going to feel lighter and better and just rejuvenated once you've completed that meditation. And over time, that is said to lead to this idea of Samadhi. That was a super quick overview of the eight limbs, something that yoga practitioners spend lifetimes studying. But I at least wanted you to have that introduction so that in future episodes you would at least be familiar with what I'm talking about. If I'm talking about pranayama, about meditation about Yama and Niyama, you know, where those are coming from, you know, that I'm talking about the yoga sutras, you know, I'm talking about those guiding principles that are leading us to live this life like a Yogi. I hope you were able to take away a better understanding of the Yoga Sutras and the Eight Limbs and are looking forward to learning more about those Yama and Niyama. Until next time, cozy crew. That wraps another soul nourishing episode of Cozy Yoga Life. As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your yoga journey. If you enjoyed today's authentic conversation, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review. Until next time, stay cozy, take care of yourself, and keep it real.