What is Yoga?
Yoga translates as “to yoke or to unite” body, mind and soul. In the Yoga Sutras, a collection of aphorisms which outline the 8 limbs of Yoga as a practice, Patanjali states the goal of Yoga as the cessation or removal of the modifications of the mind stuff. The “ mind stuff” is the sometimes incessant mental chatter, monkey mind where we bounce from thought to thought, or thought waves that pull us out of the present experience and color our perspective of the world. Our practice in Yoga is to yoke mind, body, and soul and experience the wholeness that always exists so that even if “mind stuff” is happening, we do not get caught up in it and tossed about by the story our monkey mind creates.
The 8 limbs of Yoga
At Yoga Life, we are rooted in Ashtanga Yoga Philosphy, or 8-limbs of Philosophy. The 8 Limbs include the Yamas and Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Yamas are principals that we live by, and how we interact with our universe. Ahimsa (non-violence), Staya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation), and Aparigraha (non-grasping). Niyamas are qualities for each of us as individuals. Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study), and Ishvara-pranidhana (surrender). Asana is the physical posture practice that we typically associate with yoga in the West. Pranayama, or extension of our life force, is the control of our breath. The rest of the limbs are more of an internal practice as with Pratyahara, we withdrawal the senses from the external environment. Dharana, single pointed concentration can occur. Dhyana is our meditation practice and a state we enter, and from there we reach Samadhi, the final limb, a state of enlightenment or absolute bliss.
How is what we practice incorporated into life?
What and how we practice on our mat has a relationship with what we do and who we are off our mat. We believe that a Yoga practice should incorporate all 8 Limbs and not only the physical postures. Teachers at Yoga Life read the room, teach intuitively and weave philosophy into each class so that students can bring more purpose into why we are practicing and what that is the day exactly. This ultimately spills out into our lives and has an impact on everyone and everything we come in contact with. The practice can continue once you step off your mat and become a way of living skillfully and consciously in the world.
Just like we are constantly changing, your practice will evolve as you do. Through the discipline of the practice, you will physically get stronger and more flexibile, mentally clear and capable, energetically open and expansive, and spiritually free. You will gain awareness on all levels and through this awareness move through your life and practice in new ways. Your practice will continue to take you to new places that need to be addressed in life and mind. Our teachers can guide you skillfully and you’ll feel supported in a space of community as you approach your internal world with more grace and compassion seeing each day and unique, sacred, and different.