In preparation for Jeff Perlman’s upcoming “The Eight Limbs of Yoga” workshop (6/4) at Goorus, we thought it might be a good idea to briefly touch on the eight limbs.
The yogic journey, as defined by Patanjali* is an eight-fold path. The eight limbs act as guidelines for how to live a healthy and meaningful life, tuned into one’s own purpose and spiritual nature. The eight limbs of yoga are:
· Yamas: Universal codes of behavior/morality
· Niyamas: Personal observances
· Asanas: Physical postures/poses
· Pranayama: Breath control/exercises
· Pratyahara: Control of the senses
· Dharana: Concentration
· Dhyana: Devotion/meditation
· Samadhi: Bliss/union with the divine
Yamas create the framework of a universal society of order and fairness, of basic tenets of property and contracts. The third of the Yamas is Asteya. Asteya is non-stealing.
We can practice Asteya in yoga by:
Leaving your shoes outside the asana room. Just like at baggage claim at the airport, check your belongings carefully to be sure you are taking your items with you (not someone else’s).
Not taking someone else’s blocks, straps, blankets, etc. Props are for all to share.
Pulling forward and using only one spot when parking your car in the back lot.
Not stealing attention by placing your mat in the front of the room and “showing off” challenging poses unless asked by the teacher to demonstrate.
Not forcing your body into positions that aren’t agreeable. Instead, think about “earning” your poses through practice and breathwork rather than “stealing” the process and experience from yourself.
We can practice Asteya in life by:
Not wasting food. Use your surplus to improve the living conditions of those less fortunate.
Not stealing physical or intellectual property.
Not stealing time. Active Asteya includes being respectful of others’ time—watching the clock to ensure you arrive on time for appointments or letting someone know when you’re running late.
Not stealing others’ creativity by forcing your opinions on them.
In what ways are you stealing from yourself or others on a daily basis? Are you shorting yourself some much desired free time by logging on to FaceBook or Instagram? Are you shorting yourself an inspirational yoga practice by being indecisive? Are you stealing from your friend’s time by using your words to complain? When we stop stealing, we open ourselves up to what is really ours.
*the ancient sage said to have authored the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of yoga