Remember when we were younger & our teachers used to tell us to follow the white line on the floor while walking the corridor? This was done not solely to teach us how to walk straight but also to inculcate discipline and obedience within ourselves. According to Ayurveda, liberation/Nirvana is the ultimate goal of our life. We humans take birth, fulfil our duties and walk through all our stages in the pursuit of attaining moksha. Now take your classroom as attaining nirvana and the corridor as your pathway - your journey in this life. It might not be a clearly defined white line but rather what Maharishi Patanjali has labelled as the ‘Ashtanga Yoga System’ or 'The Eight Limbs of Yoga’.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga acts as a navigator to lead a life with a purpose and encapsulates your road-map to liberty. Apart from just being your regular dose of Ayurvedic knowledge, this article also throws light on easy ways in which you can incorporate them in your daily humdrum. So, take some time off your yoga mat and indulge in the true essence of Yoga.
Some of the guiding principals of yoga are Yama - Niyamas
1. YAMA - Yama dictates moral behaviour. Making conscious choices and choosing the ‘ideal’ way to go about with your daily life stressors - it reflects your restraint and puts impulsive thoughts on a leash. Its basic aspects are :
- Ahimsa or Practising Non-violence
- Satya or Preaching Truthfulness
- Asteya or Restraining from stealing
- Brahmacharya or Channelising your energy the right way , and
- Aparigraha or Abstaining from greed
Certain easy measures like following ways to anger-management - be it reverse counting or breathing, identifying us apart from our relationships and confronting personal/professional issues of daily lives can be the beginning of this way of living. For Gen Z, leaving the impression of “material gworl” behind and understanding the fragile nature of these superficial products in our lives is the way to go. Not partaking in any unscrupulous activities - be it personal or business is what we should preach. Thus, believing and supporting ethical practises is one step to go about it.
2. NIYAMA - Niyama puts light on our moral duties - our responsibilities towards not just the world but ourselves. It further includes :
- Saucha or keeping ourselves(and our thoughts) tidy
- Santosha or the feeling of satisfaction/contentment
- Tapas or showing fiery discipline & spiritual practices
- Svadhyaya or self-introspection , and
- Isvara Pranidaha or devotion towards a higher spiritual being
Our body is like a temple - thus cleanliness should always be maintained right? We are not just talking about the visible aspects of it but rather cleansing ourselves and driving away the self-hate thoughts and gossipping over sipping iced teas. It’s the age of self-acceptance, instead of just limiting it to one’s sexuality we should also aim at being satisfied with our abilities and our strengths as well as weaknesses. Maintaining a proper dinacharya routine and dedicating just 10-20 minutes into yoga or any spiritual practice works wonders if you want to take this pathway. Writing a journal before going to bed about your whole routine would help you rewind and discern ourselves.
3. ASANA - Interestingly Asana does not reflect any specific yoga postures but rather, refers to the ‘seat of consciousness’. With this third limb comes the physical aspects of yoga - postures and meditation. P.S. - The best asana is the asana which your body can control without any discomfort or turbulence.
4. PRANAYAMA - Pranayama literally translates to ‘the practice of breath regulation’. For physical and mental wellness, it is mandatory to know how our breath works and connect with our inner self with conscious breathing. Anulom-Vilom being the renowned pranayama exercise, brings our consciousness in harmony with our physical self.
5. PRATYAHARA - Drawing our senses inward and exploring our inner self is what defines pratyahara. In mere words it can mean zero distraction from external sources- being engrossed in the present. In our hasty life with the sounds of car horn honking, it is essential that we shift focus to our breathing too.
6. DHARANA - The previous limb which focused more on not being bothered by the environment, dharana puts emphasis on putting concentration on the object in consideration. Putting our mind to meditation and blocking every other thoughts are the basis of dharana. Pratyahara & Dharana combined form the prepping routine to yoga, for an effective yoga practice.
Certain easy measures like spending time in nature and listening to that soothing music derived from a natural waterfall or even brown noise. Put those noise-cancelling headphones into work and delve deeper within. Ayurveda states that once we learn to control our mind, we can block all negative thoughts from contaminating our inner consciousness.
7. DHYANA - Now when we say we’re meditating - dhyana is what we’re talking about. It shifts our focus and drives our mind restricted to meditating, that even the thought of ‘meditating’ is latent. Your designated time on the yoga mat is the modern alternative to this limb.
8. SAMADHI - Here we are, climbing the final ladder on our journey to attain liberty and peace. But guess what? Samadhi is not a permanent state. It mimics a see-saw where the “balance” gets distrubed by our preferences and choices. Samadhi is not synonymous with happiness or bliss, which is its literal definition, but rather removes our ‘lens of perception’. It mirrors reality sans the thoughts and emotions which often persuade us from the real goal - nirvana.
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