Yoga, Meditation & Wisdom

May 1st, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

This month we move on to the most recognizable of the Eight Limbs.

The third limb is asana, which is Sanskirt for “abiding”, meaning the physical postures within yoga. Even if you have never taken a yoga class, you are most likely aware of some of the yoga postures.

meditation (Graphic: food.ntv.com)

The benefits of asana are balance, strength and flexibility. Flexibility is a necessity as we age; the more flexible we are, the better we will move and the younger we will feel.

In asana, the body is challenged. With the physical challenge, your body grows stronger and the mind, through control and focus, becomes quiet, more focused. You will find a deeper sense of conscious awareness.

meditation2

(Graphic: renewing all things.com)

Asana is necessary to prepare for meditation.

The control we have over our physical bodies during asana comes to us through control of our breath. The awareness that we strive for begins with the breath This is pranayama, which is the fourth limb. (Please see my Meditation article from 12/2014: http://paganpages.org/content/2014/12/a-moment-for-meditation-4/

Prana is your life force; it is energy. The breath can cleanse toxins from your body, strengthen the lungs, calm the nervous system. This energy, combined with asana creates a balance of mind, body and spirit. Breath control allows us to control the mind, and not the other way around. Self-control and discipline come from the breath.

meditation3

(Graphic: genesisgym.com)

Using various breath techniques such as 4/4 breath, breath of fire, long deep breathing will give you energy, release stress, strengthen your aura – your projection to and protection from, the world around you. When you begin to notice and focus on your breath, you can actually feel yourself transforming, it is that powerful.

In some yoga traditions, like Kundalini Yoga, the breath is combined with moving asana, or a kriya (action) to bring about that transformation.

meditation4

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

As Interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

***

Yoga pose

is a steady

and comfortable position

***

Yoga pose is mastered

by relaxations of effort,

lessening the tendency

for restless breathing,

and promoting an identification

of oneself as living

within

the infinite breath of life.

***

From that

perfection of yoga posture,

duality

***

When this is acquired,

pranayama naturally follow,

with a cessation

of the movments

of inspiration and expiration.

***

***

As a result of this pranayama,

the veil obscuring the radiant supreme

light of the Inner Self dissolves.

***

meditation5

And as a result,

the mind attains fitness

from the contemplation

of the True Self

NAMASTE


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