Essential Practices

Yoga practice has the potential to touch upon every single aspect of one’s life.  How is this so?  To begin, we must expand our definition of yoga beyond the postures and begin to recognize the other components of traditional yogic practice.  In-fact, there are eight limbs of practice that constitute a formal system of yoga.  The name for these limbs is Ashtanga Yoga or the eight limbs of yoga.

A complete discussion of each of these limbs is the subject of another entry and I wish to touch upon two of the foundational limbs.  The limbs that have to do with our day to day existence are called yama and niyama or the restraints and observances.

What these two limbs do is give some reference point as to how to conduct ourselves socially, in our actions, in our words and even our thoughts.  Our very lives are constituted by our actions, words and thoughts so the application of yama and niyama will pervade every aspect of one’s life.

I was once having an enduring conversation with a woman in her 80’s.  She was a very sweet soul who I had an ongoing relationship with.  Her name was Vishnu Ma.  We were discussing stories from the past and how people operated. Then she said something in passing that left an impression upon me.
“There are no guidelines anymore.”

I found that to be a resonate, simple and astute observation.  What do we reference as a culture for guidance?

In the coming weeks I’ll give a more detailed account of yogic tenants for living and how they can be applied to life.