At New Yoga Collective we often talk about the ‘limbs’ of yoga. We’ve written them all down for you:
The first limb is about cultivating 5 universal ‘Yamas’, guidelines. These seem quite logical but we all need a gentle reminder from time to time:
Did you know it takes 66 days on average to build a new habit? In the second limb we look at 5 productive and healthy habits and how to interweave these into your daily life:
The third limb of yoga is the one we are most familiar with. It’s called ‘Asana’. By focussing on function [rather than insta-worthy looks that can be quite injurious] Simone guides you through a safe and beneficial physical practice for any kind of [aspiring] yogi to develop strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination.
Asana’s were created to be able to sit and meditate. As it is to most of us impossible to move directly from asana to meditation, we need to make a transition from body to mind – limb 4 & 5:
In the 4th limb we practice a breathing exercise in which we hold our breath after breathing out while holding and tightening our ‘bandhas’ [three specific points in our body] to control our vital energies and impulses.
In this step we try to master the senses around us. Do you have trouble with anger management? Do you find yourself easily distracted, sensitive to sound or drawn to the wrong foods? Pratyahara is the limb to work on: to be able to resist those impulses. Practicing meditation will help with that.
With ‘Dharana’ we focus purely and solely on one point – this can be a part of the body, a chakra, or something external like an object or a picture – to quiet the mind with total concentration.
In the 7th limb we take the technique of ‘Dharana’ a little further by keeping the intensity of focus without the need of a concrete focus point.
In the 8th limb we develop a sense of connectedness to all human beings and nature called ‘Samadhi’, encouraging pro-social behavior in the largest sense.
Even if you are able to reach a state of Samadhi that doesn’t mean the game is over, yoga is a life-long-constantly-evolving-from-limb-to-limb-learning-proces. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.