by Catherine Madsen
Bliss Crafter, Austin Yoga Tree
The eight limbs of yoga are eight levels that act as guidelines for how to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. The limbs also serve as a code of conduct to live by in order to reach spiritual enlightenment. It is important to understand that the eight limbs build on each other; in other words, the first limbs are the foundation for our spiritual journey. A strong foundation allows us to move from one limb to the next, leading to the eighth limb, spiritual enlightenment.
First, let’s talk about our spiritual journey; this term can seem daunting. The reality is that everyone who practices yoga may not see himself or herself as being on a spiritual journey. You may not have plans to renounce all material possessions and travel through the Himalayas. You may not have plans to spend your next vacation at an ashram. You may not have plans to quit your job and become a monk. Just because these are not your goals does not mean that you are not in the midst of a spiritual journey. Recall, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings have a human experience.” Everything you do is spiritual, whether you see it as such or not. Helping a friend move is spiritual. Adopting a dog from a shelter is spiritual. Love is spiritual. And these spiritual moments throughout the day are chances for us to progress on our journey.
The eight limbs of yoga break down the steps on our spiritual journey and remind us what our foundation is composed of.
First limb: Yama
The word yama means restraint. Yamas are ethical standards that we should abide by in our daily lives. Yamas shape our everyday behaviors and how we conduct ourselves. There are 5 yamas.
1. Ahimsa – nonviolence
Stay tuned over the next 7 weeks as we delve deeper into the remaining 7 limbs!