Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: Asana & Pranayama

Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: Asana & Pranayama

By: Juliana Cole – Living Yogi, Yoga Instructor, Studio Manager at Yoga Heights   Hello Yogis and welcome back to the exploration of the Eight Limb Path of Yoga! Moving on to limb three (asana) and limb four (pranayama), we are getting deeper into what we in the western world more commonly associate with the word Yoga. Asana translates directly to seat and we have, over time, come to describe asana as seat, pose or posture. What we practice in the classroom are a sequence of asanas, or postures, and this is what we most commonly consider Yoga. There are as many texts on the asanas and the history of the asanas as there are asanas, and we in the yoga practicing and instructing world are constantly elaborating on and creating new asanas. The beauty of the Yoga asanas is something that is as old as the practice itself (remember, it’s dated to nearly 6,000 years old); that it is a practice that is never stagnant, always changing, and has everything to do with your ability to listen to and have a conversation with yourself, your body and your teacher. Originally, the asana described a comfortable seat in which one could meditate with ease and without the distraction of suffering within the body. For centuries, the asana were a small list of seated postures used for meditation, and the teaching and passing on of the asanas was something very secretive and not documented. The body was believed to be both a vessel for the sacred/the Light/Brahma as well as a sack of meat and bones destined to suffer, fall...
Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: The Niyamas, Living Yoga

Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: The Niyamas, Living Yoga

By: Juliana Cole – Living Yogi, Yoga Instructor, Studio Manager at Yoga Heights   Hello Yogis! Thanks for tuning in once again as we continue our discovery of the Eight Limb Path of Yoga. Last month, we got into the Yamas, the first limb, and in this post, we will look more closely at the Niyamas.   Quick review – we are exploring the eight limbs or stages of yoga which are all about the practical application of yoga. Yoga can be considered the study of the mind with the intention of understanding the workings of the mind, connecting with one’s innermost self and feeling at peace and at one with everything around you. The eight limbs are offered as a means to reaching this ultimate goal and should be practiced all at once, all the time. Yes, that sounds like a lofty goal and it is! In a way, that’s the point: this is a practice that is constant and though at times can seem easy, there is the inevitable eb and flow which implies that there are times when it seems impossible. I think it is safe to say that most people embark on a yogic path because they are drawn to it, so the work (which eventually becomes ever present) is truly a labor of love. Let’s get into it then- the second limb of this wheel or path of yoga- The Niyamas!   The Yamas and the Niyamas make up what could be considered the ten ethical principles by which we guide our thoughts and actions. We reviewed the Yamas last month, discussing the five...
Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: The Yamas, Living Yoga

Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: The Yamas, Living Yoga

By: Juliana Cole – Living Yogi, Yoga Instructor, Studio Manager at Yoga Heights   Hello Yogis! Thanks for tuning in again as we continue our discovery of the Eight Limb Path of Yoga. In this post, we will look more closely at the first limb: the Yamas. Last month I mentioned that I’d be writing about the Yamas and Niyamas in this post but as I dive into writing these posts and attempt to make them engaging and not overwhelming, I keep pulling back on adding more content. So I have split this post into two: this month you’ll get the Yamas & next month, the Niyamas!   Quick review – the eight limbs or stages of yoga are all about the practical application of yoga. What is the goal? BLISS, self-realization! You know, that glimmer that you have felt when you’re on the mat or out in nature where you get the sensation that you are one with everything. Maybe it appears more as a feeling of peace or a gentle quiet sensation or freedom from the things that otherwise make you feel restrained or conflicted – all of that is yoga and the journey to that oneness is also yoga.   We start here with the Yamas. The Yamas and Niyamas can be considered the ten ethical principles with which we guide our thoughts and actions; how we treat ourselves and the world around us, so to speak. Instead of thinking of these as a list of characteristics that you should emulate, think of these as descriptions of what you already embody that you practice to fine-tune...
Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: An Introduction

Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: An Introduction

By: Juliana Cole – Living Yogi, Yoga Instructor, Studio Manager at Yoga Heights   Hello again, Yoga Heights Yogi! First and foremost, thank you for reading! This is the first of a series of five posts that I will be writing exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga, so here we go!   Before we get started, it’s important to answer the very basic question: What is Yoga? Yoga means many things and presents itself in many ways. The beauty is that whatever you glean from the word yoga, you are right…and there is more of that! Most of us in the western world think of yoga as a physical practice, the Asana (poses). I think you would agree that in your practice of the Asana, you find a calming of the mind, or at least a reduction of stress. You hear your teacher talk about quieting the mind, focusing the breath and allowing your practice to be a moving meditation. That’s what I focus on when I practice the asana. If you come back to the mat, it is most likely because you have found that sensation of release from the stuff that clouds the mind on a daily basis…and you want more of that. Well, you are figuring out what yoga is all about. In a very basic and simple explanation, Yoga is the study of the mind.   Yoga has such a rich history, much of which was unwritten and only passed on through spoken word, and can be traced back almost 6,000 years. The codification of yoga, so to speak, came out in the Yoga...