This year has been incredibly challenging for me, and instead of using my practice to help me through it, I neglected it. I’m not just talking about asana (physical practice) here, I’m talking about my yoga practice in its entirety. As we move into this new month, I realise this isn’t a time for regret,... Continue Reading →
We like to call it [Brahmacharya] "proper application of energy", because this idea helps guide a physical practice to the appropriate edge, spending energy where it's needed and not where it isn't. Sage Roundtree & Alexandra Desiato (Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses)
On your yoga mat, this might show itself as being excessive in how often you practice, trying so many times to do an advanced posture that you injure yourself. Activity: The concept of excess can start to get very personal so as an activity, maybe just think about this yama? Have this idea in your... Continue Reading →
The fourth of the Yamas is Brahmacharya, or Nonexcess. Moderation in all our actions. Brahmacharya does roughly translate as abstinence, and some people take this to be celibacy, however many prefer to think of this in terms of nonexcess. So basically, don’t have more than you need, don’t be excessive. Still partake in enjoyable things,... Continue Reading →
Cultural appropriation is stealing the intellectual, spiritual, cultural informational wealth of another group, such as we see happening with yoga today and for the last century. Susanna Barkataki - How to Practice Yoga Without Appropriating It (www.susannabarkataki.com) This is always a discussion that should be happening in yoga spaces but I'm specifically mentioning this now... Continue Reading →
On your yoga mat, Asteya might show itself as wishing you could do a posture like the person next to you or wishing you had their figure. It could also mean showing up to class on time and respecting the time the teacher and other students are giving. Activity: Try and practice Asteya in your... Continue Reading →
The third of the Yamas is Asteya, or Nonstealing. Not taking what does not belong to you. The obvious message here is ‘don’t steal stuff’. But this can also refer to other things too. You can ‘take’ other’s time and energy by taking advantage of them. You can desire something that someone else has that... Continue Reading →
On your yoga mat, Satya might show itself as not being honest about what you’re capable of on that day – resulting in not giving your mind and body what they need, or potentially pushing yourself to injury. Activity: Try and practice Satya in your next yoga class/work meeting/social occasion, be honest about how you’re... Continue Reading →
Truthfulness is partnered with nonviolence…We can appreciate this statement when we begin to practice speaking our truth without causing harm to others. As partners, truthfulness keeps nonviolence from being a wimpy cop-out, while nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a brutal weapon.Deborah Adele
The second of the Yamas is Satya, or truthfulness. Right communication through speech, writing, gesture and actions. Yes, this means telling the truth, but sometimes the truth can cause hurt which goes against Ahimsa, and Ahimsa always comes first. So, try to be truthful and honest where you can, with your words and actions, but... Continue Reading →
On your yoga mat, Ahimsa might show itself as beating yourself up for losing your balance, or perhaps judging the person on the mat next to you when they do… Activity: Try and practice Ahimsa in your next yoga class/work meeting/social occasion, speak to yourself and others with kindness!
The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa, or nonviolence. Nonviolence towards others and ourselves, and a consideration for all living things. There is more to this than just “not getting in fights” – this means being kind and thoughtful when interacting with others, but also yourself. Your words and thoughts can be just as violent... Continue Reading →
After nearly 20 years of Ashtanga Yoga practice, I now measure my success by how long I'm able to keep my emotional centre spacious enough to be genuinely kind. By comparison, it's almost easy to get on the mat and bend and twist your body. In daily life, it is much harder to maintain a... Continue Reading →
Yamas translates roughly as restraints and covers our attitudes toward our environment. The yamas are: Ahimsa (Nonviolence)Satya (Truthfulness)Asteya (Nonstealing)Brahmacarya (Nonexcess)Aparigraha (Nonposessiveness) I realise that at a first glance, you can see a lot of words starting with 'Non' - however, these guidelines, or restraints, are not about limiting your life, they are about opening up... Continue Reading →
Recently my, physical/asana practice has been very limited - a combination of the house move and shoulder injuries means it's just been more difficult than usual. But this doesn't mean I've not been practicing yoga. I've spent 3 years practicing asana, so now it's really nice to dedicate some time to the other areas of... Continue Reading →
With the eight limbs, there is a lot of information to take in, especially as there are so many interpretations of them. As I read through various versions I always need a notebook handy to scribble notes, and (sorry for those who hate this) but underline and highlight passages in the book too. Do you... Continue Reading →
The eighth, and final, limb is Samadhi which is a state of unity, or a complete sense of concentration.
As we've been introducing the eight limbs, you can see that there is so much more to yoga than the physical poses. This quote from T. K. V. Desikachar's The Heart of Yoga sums it up really well. "Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser, more able to understand things than they... Continue Reading →
The seventh of the limbs is Dhyana which is often translated as meditation, though in some books I've read it is slightly different to meditation - the ability to focus and have deep mental concentration.
As I'm introducing the eight limbs of yoga, you can probably see why the third limb, Asana (postures), is the limb that's most often portrayed and talked about, especially on social media. First, it is ideal for images as it's purely physical - how do you take photographs of concentration or breath work? Second, it's... Continue Reading →
The fifth of the limbs is Pratyahara which is sense withdrawal or the restraint of senses. From this point on, the limbs are very new concepts to me, so I'll wait to go into more details until I'm more familiar with them myself.
The fourth of the limbs is Pranayama which is breath control and the practice of breathing exercises. I've done a little bit of Pranayama work in my regular yoga class, and we practiced a few techniques in a workshop I attended at the Natural History Museum in London. Some of the practices made me feel... Continue Reading →
The third of the limbs is Asana. These are the physical postures of yoga and are what a lot of people think of when the term Yoga is used.
The second of the limbs is Niyama, or the Niyamas. This translates roughly as 'observances' and includes our attitudes toward ourselves. The Niyamas also have 5 elements which I'll be covering later. When discussing the Niyamas here, I'll often be referencing the work of Deborah Adele and the book 'The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's... Continue Reading →
The first of the limbs is Yama, or the Yamas. This translates roughly as 'restraints' and includes our attitudes toward our environment. The Yamas have 5 elements which I'll cover in the future. When discussing the Yamas here, I'll often be referencing the work of Deborah Adele and the book 'The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring... Continue Reading →
"In its exported manifestation, yoga has tended to focus on the physical aspect of the system of yoga, the Asanas, or stretching poses and postures, which most Western adherents of yoga practice in order to stay trim, supple and healthy. Patanjali himself, however, pays minimal attention to the Asanas, which are the third stage of... Continue Reading →
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a series of 196 short statements (sutras) concerning yoga. I'll go into the sutras in more detail as I work my way through them in my own learning, but I first of all wanted to introduce the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which form part of the Yoga Sutras. Over... Continue Reading →