Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Picture of Yoga

Life is a moment to moment practice of mindfulness. With each second you have limitless choices in your brain to make. At the biochemical level when you decide something a neuron in your brain is fired along a pathway. As the neuron fires it clears the path, therefore, making it easier for a neuron to travel down the same path in the future. If you make decisions based on fear, it becomes easier to be afraid and make decisions based on fear. By making mindful choices that honor your true self you can cultivate the life the you want to live. Yoga is a huge philosophy and science that applies to every aspect of living offering tools to cultivate balance of the body, mind and spirit. According to my experience yoga can help to reinforce healthy decision making and feelings of well-being. 

Yoga is a path that leads towards a state where there are more calm nurturing moments than those where I feel stress. Yoga as a practice is about creating union of body, mind and spirit so that we are health and whole.

There are eight aspects of practice that are under the root term Ashtanga or Raja Yoga put into words by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This is the big picture of what yoga practice really is. 

1. Yamas: ethical observances
- Practice: Non-violence, truthfulness, control of the senses, non-stealing, and do not receive of others kindness more than needed.

2. Niyamas: personal observances
- Practice: cleanliness, contentment, warrior-like dedication, perpetual self-study, and surrender to the notion that there is a higher power, life force, God, energy, breath, whatever you want to call it exists.

3. Asana: practice of mindful postures that uncover the tight, tense, and weak areas of the body where the energy is blocked. Through the postures build strength, balance, and flexibility.

4. Pranayama: the art of manipulating the breath for a desired benefit.

5. Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses (moments when you are touching enlightenment - your mind is calm and you think of nothing without realizing it).

6. Dharana: practicing one-pointed concentration

7. Dhyana: practicing meditation and inward focus

8. Samadhi: experiencing a state of divine bliss or super-conciousness

Through practicing Raja Yoga rather than the strictly physical path one is able to live in a way that cultivates health for the mental, physical and spiritual body. 

Article by:

Keri Marino is an internationally Registered Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist. She's owns and operates Yoga Unique offering therapy, classes, workshops and yoga products. Keri teachers both privately and publicly around the Greenville area. Check out more here: YogaUnique

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