A Quick Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs of Yoga were written down by Patanjali over 2000 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. Previously, the yoga techniques were passed down orally from yoga guru to disciple. The Sutras (meaning ‘thread’ in sanskrit) are a collection of 196 short statements on the theory and practice of yoga.  In essence, the sutras are an outline of the teachings of yoga. Each sutra requires contemplation to unpack the depth of its meaning from its simplicity. Many commentaries have been written which attempt to illuminate the sutras and if you are interested I suggest looking to one of these commentaries for more exploration. The following is a incomplete and simplified version of the The 8 Limbs of Yoga from my humble, pragmatic perspective.

1st Limb: Yamas (Restraints)

2nd Limb: Niyamas (Observances)

The Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical precepts for Yoga, are the foundation for all of the other yogic practices. Rather than view them as a way to judge right from wrong, they can be used for guidance on how to live a yogic life, where we consider which actions will support love and connection.

3rd Limb: Asana (Postures)

The 3rd Limb is the what most people identify with yoga, the physical postures. The postures help ground us into the experiences of our body, anchor us to the present moment and revitalize the flow of energy, relieving stagnate or constricted energy in the body.

Read More »

Becoming Still

Winter brings with it a hectic hustle unlike no other time. As a yogi and a nature lover my natural inclination is to become reflective and quiet this time of year. Long cups of tea, reading and writing by the fire is my preference as we move toward the darkest days of the year. But as a business owner (oh the conflicts are many) this time of year calls for action. There are so many minute details and the inevitable need to manage multiple obligations. Though I personally choose to celebrate Solstice over any other winter holiday, family traditions and obligations require my presence. And then there is the unending pressure and the heighten emotions that come with holiday expectations and avoidance of those expectations. The doing and swirling and tension builds on all side, swirling and churning. 

Inside of me I have been feeling a strong urge to explore stillness in a way that I have never felt so strongly. The energy all around me feels frenetic and slightly out of control. The outer world is saying, society is saying, “You must do something NOW and on my terms.” Nature is saying, “Turn inward and rest.” Today particularly, the Winter Solstice, my Inner world is sending a different message. Higher Awareness says, ” Do not act. Be still. Listen. Let the darkness fall. Be with the quiet, be with the dark. Breathe in, listen deeply, reflect. Breathe out and be with the churning, embrace the darkness until stillness comes. Be present here in this moment as if you have nothing else to do, nowhere else to be. Be stillness itself. And when you move again, move with renewed spirit to act, with Awareness.” I believe it is time to listen to that awareness.

Happy Solstice. May we all find stillness in the darkness and celebrate the light, for it is never lost. ~ Jai, Bhagwan, Susan 🙏l

Staying Sane in a Turbulent World

Outside a gentle rain is falling on the tin roof of the cabin. Curled up in bed with my laptop, the slanted ceiling of the bedroom loft is alive with the sound of rain. My gaze lands on the sloped hillside outside the second story window where the colors of fall light up the landscape even through the rain. The leaves of the trees blow freely in the wind. I am present, tuned into the clicking of the keys as I type, the rhythm of the breath inside me, and the changing beat of the drops on the roof. In this moment, the world is safe and quiet, a simple heaven of sight, sound and touch.  

This week I am spending a few days in a cabin in the woods, hiking, writing, and watching the stars. For a time, the rhythm of the days are not determined by the ping of the phone, the arrival of emails and the busy preparation for yoga class, offering my energy and presence to others; for a time I am offering the gift of presence to myself. The reward of this attention is clarity, inner quiet, and the exquisite sweetness of moving slowly. The morning rain is an added bonus, a message from nature to take my time. Read More »

Patience and Letting Go

At the end of my recent nine day training at the Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, I was asked to reflect on what I wanted to remember about being there and the teachings I learned. If I reduced this to two words, they would be “patience” and “letting go.”

For me, patience most often happens when I have taken the time to center myself in the morning in preparation for the day ahead. Then, throughout the day, using my breath to relax and soften into life just as it is has been invaluable. Maybe it’s a “letting go” breath (deep breath in, big exhale with a sigh) or maybe it’s a longer meditation that’s required and it can mean the difference from being caught in striving or centering softly into the present. Read More »

Resistance is Futile

There are three things I know about myself; I hate change, I resist change and my “story” is that change is not my friend. Simultaneously there are two things I know about the Universe; everything changes and resistance is futile.

Last week was a whopper, a butt kicker, a doosie (insert your favorite phrase here). In the midst of said week things were coming at me from all directions. My survival method kicked in, I put my head down and plowed through. Finally, on Thursday morning space opened up in my schedule and I had a moment to hit pause.  The feel of the sun on my skin and the sound of the wind chimes on the porch softened the gripping on my body and in my mind. Sitting in quiet reflection I was able to step back and become aware of why I felt so shut down mentally and emotionally. During this pause I became aware that my friend resistance was sitting next to me.
Read More »