I have been studying the 8 limbed path more extensively lately as I have been teaching it to one of my private clients. The 8 limbed path was introduced to me in my yoga teacher training, we studied it, broke it down and talked about each limb and how they related to our lives personally. The 8 limbs of yoga are a way for us to establish a well rounded practice on and off the mat.
This yogic concept was believed to be introduced around the 2nd century in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, this school of yoga is typically referred to as Classical Yoga. Patanjali was (as I picture) a smiley, bearded man who we really do not know much about. As we look at each limb we can clearly see the aptitude in which we are already applying these to our own lives and how timeless they really are. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. There are many ways for us to practice yoga off of our mats, in our hearts, our minds and throughout our daily lives.
When we are feeling overwhelmed at work, we can focus on slowing down the breath (pranayama), which anchors us into the present moment & calms our minds. When we are dealing with a difficult relationship, we can communicate our boundaries (satya), tune into our bodies and listen to what feels light and what feels heavy. Throughout our day we can practice showing others loving kindness (ahimsa), we can give thanks for what we have (santosha) and we can devote ourselves to a Higher Love (ishvara-pranidhana).
How do you embody your yoga practice off of your mat?
"Patanjali's foundations are useful only to the degree that they can guide us to that instant of recognizing our inherent freedom, which gives us the authority and power to see Reality in its nakedness and go beyond all formulations, creeds, dogmas, models, theories or points of view." - Georg Feuerstein, PH.D. from The Yoga Tradition
Resources for studying yoga philosophy:
~ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (I like Sri Swami Satchidananda's translation)
~ The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein
~ Bhagavad Gita (I like Stephen Mitchell's translation)
~ How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach