Ashtanga - ASHTA - 8 ANGA - Limbs.
I spoke about what the 8 limbs of Ashtanga in a previous post, but wanted to go through it in a little more detail.
These are ordered in the way they are because you are to practice them in order...
Yama is self-restraint / self control. This is broken down in 5 important categories.
Ahimsa - This means gentleness.
Mental - we still need to think gentle thoughts because violent thoughts can lead to violent actions, behaviours and attitudes.
Verbal - speak in gentle language and tone.
Physical - this goes without saying, but of course we need to keep our physical action gentle.
Satya - Truthfulness
Investigate the truth with an open mind - e.g if you have an idea of what you believe in your head, seek the truth without bias to fit your own idea. Otherwise you are lying to yourself or seeking something which will never materialise.
Even in truth we still need to practice Ahimsa - gentleness. Speak the truth in a gentle way.
Asteya - Non-Stealing
Fulfilling responsibility - this doesn't just mean taking something from a shop without paying, this also means not taking more than your fair amount. E.G if you got paid for 5 hours of work and you only did 3.
Non-temptation - not wasting energy on things which don't matter so they can be directed into the right places.
Aparigraha - Non-possessiveness / non collecting.
When you collect or hoard things, there is an imbalance. BE ready to share not just your possessions but your knowledge.
Rules to Follow or personal discipline
Shaucha - Cleaning / purification/ personal hygiene.
If you do not keep yourself clean, you will contaminate.
Clean physically with Shatkarmas internally too.
Keep your mind clear with fasting, Focussed gazing (dristi), meditation, Pranayama etc.
Santosha - contentment, satisfaction, acceptance and appreciation.
Appreciate what you have, find contentment in your current condition and what you have to be thankful for in your situation.
Tapa - Self discipline for continuous effort to your goals.
Strive for improvement but don't forget what you already have (Santosha). Put effort into goals you want to achieve.
Svādhyāya - 'self study' or 'self observation'
We reach heights step by step.
we can become to be aware of our progress with introspection and that will keep your motivation.
Learning more with material to study.
TIP - from my philosophy teacher, take 5 minutes each day to go over and summarize your day. It gives you a chance to process, remember and learn from your day.
Ishvarapranidhana - 'Devotion to God'.
Patanjali said 'God' is 'pure consciousness.' YOu are free from all bondages and desires and temptation.
God is something higher than me, in order to know what is higher than 'me', I need to know what 'me' is.
Surrendering to the moment / yourself/ what you are doing. To surrender our individual ego identities to God (our own higher self) we will attain the identity of God.
Posture - Sthir sukham Asanam is what we are looking for. Comfortable, steady posture. This means we are able to meditate for a long time comfortable in our body.
In yogic practice and philosophy, the body has many energy channels and works like an antenna. The reason alignment is so important is because you want to keep those channels open to accept the energy.
Asana practice helps to eliminate aliments and allow the practitioner to have a healthy body to be able to remove the physical blockages to assist long hours of meditation without physical discomfort.