YOGA With Darlene Bink

W H A T  I S  Y O G A ?

"Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are."

ERICH SCHIFFMANN

By tuning into the ease within and your natural breath, you become mindful and sensitive.  You move tenderly and gracefully, with a newfound sense of freedom. You bend, balance, twist… and breathe. You create space, joy, and lightness in your body. You begin to connect with your authentic nature more deeply. You find yourself staying present to the here and now more and more. And then comes the stillness, a well-deserved time for observation.  A newly-created energy is present. The infinite life force moves through your physical being in wave-like motions.  You feel exuberantly alive with a plethora of wellness and gratitude.  There is a quiet longing for this active state of stillness, and it belongs to you and you alone.  Allow the stillness to heal you, make you whole, and bring you home. Life becomes simple and clear.  It is a new world, and suddenly, everything around you becomes irresistibly fascinating.  

 

Discover your yoga.

Yoga is a sacred practice that is over 5000 years old. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to "yoke" or "bind."  You will often hear the word yoga described as meaning "union."

Yoga has done so much for me over the years.  It has been a tool for a better way of living.  A better way of being. Many years ago, when I first began this wonderful practice, it brought balance back into my body.  It improved my health... literally healing my body and mind.  Yoga has given me a broader perspective on the world around me.  It has taught me patience and acceptance.  My Yoga practice has intensified the passion I feel in everyday life, for everyday activities, and for relationships, travel, hobbies, etc.  Life just gets better... by making me a better human being.

 

I take what I need each day.  Some days that might be a full Yoga practice with asana, pranayama, and meditation.  Some days I may only do a few postures and breathe a bit.  And some days I just want to lie with my legs up the wall.  There are days where my practice happens spontaneously, like when I'm walking in the woods and I become overwhelmed by beauty and the air that I breathe.  Or I might find myself having a delightful conversation with a stranger. As much as I can, I stay tuned in to all of it.  Yes, mindfulness is part of my practice too.

 

Yoga helps me realize who I am. 

T H E  E I G H T  L I M B S  O F  Y O G A

The eight limbs of yoga explain yoga more traditionally.  According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the eight limbs of yoga offers guidance on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, and ultimately lead to liberation.

1. Yamas

Yamas are ethical rules in Hinduism and can be thought of as moral imperatives. The five yamas listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra 2.30 are:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings

  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood

  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing

  4. Brahmacārya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint

  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness

 

2. Niyama

The second component of Patanjali's Yoga path is called niyama, which includes virtuous habits, behaviors and observances (the "dos").  Sadhana Pada Verse 32 lists the niyamas as:

  1. Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech and body

  2. Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self

  3. Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity

  4. Svādhyāya: study of Vedas (see Sabda in epistemology section), study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions

  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality)

 

3. Āsana

Patanjali begins discussion of Āsana (आसन, posture) by defining it in verse 46 of Book 2, as follows,


Translation 1: An asana is what is steady and pleasant.

Translation 2: Motionless and Agreeable form (of staying) is Asana (yoga posture).

— Yoga Sutras II.46

Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness".  Āraṇya translates verse II.47 of Yoga sutra as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body.  The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck and head erect (proper spinal posture).

 

4. Prāṇāyāma

Prāṇāyāma is made out of two Sanskrit words prāṇa (प्राण, breath) and āyāma (आयाम, restraining, extending, stretching).

After a desired posture has been achieved, verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation).  This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).

5. Pratyāhāra

Pratyāhāra is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- (the prefix प्रति-, "towards") and āhāra (आहार, "bring near, fetch").

Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self.  It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.

Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

6. Dhāraṇā

Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा) means concentration, introspective focus and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep."

 

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga, is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of one's mind.  The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra, or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind.  Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another.

7. Dhyāna

Dhyana (Sanskrit: ध्यान) literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation."

Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object.  If the focus was on a concept/idea, Dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.

8. Samādhi

Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि) literally means "putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, trance."

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi.

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"There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy."

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Live passionately.  Be brave.

© 2019 Darlene Bink, All Rights Reserved

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