Yoga beyond the poses

By Sindy Warren

At its core, yoga is about our internal lives.  According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ancient preeminent text summarizing the teachings of yoga, the goal is simple: to still the fluctuations of the mind (chitta vritti nirodhah, in Sanskrit).  Why is it then, that the yoga we see — both in the media and in class — is about the poses, either primarily or exclusively?  The physical practice of yoga is actually only one of the eight limbs articulated in the Yoga Sutras. It’s the most visible, the most accessible for many students, and certainly the sexiest.  But it’s only one eighth of this thing we call yoga.  What about the other parts?  They are listed below, in the order they appear in the Sutras:

  • Yamas:  attitudes toward the world
  • Niyamas: attitudes towards the self
  • Asana: the physical postures
  • Pranayama: breath work
  • Pratyhara: withdrawal of the senses/turning inward
  • Dharana: concentration
  • Dhyana: meditation
  • Samadhi: enlightenment

We’ll be exploring each of these limbs here on the blog.  It may seem archaic.  What’s the point of exploring ancient concepts in an ancient language that isn’t even in use anymore?  You may be surprised to see how applicable these concepts are in our modern world.  We may not interpret or apply them exactly the same way as the yogis of Patanjali’s time, but there is an astounding amount of wisdom and relevance for our modern lives.

Have questions?  Don’t be shy – ask away!