8 Limbs Yoga Centers was named after the 8 limbs, or aspects, of yoga, one of which is asana, the postures that make up much of a modern-day yoga class. At 8 Limbs we’ve always had a commitment to offering the full breadth of yoga, and starting last month (our 17th anniversary!), we recommitted to teaching and discussing these 8 limbs in this blog, in our monthly newsletter, in our classes (teacher’s choice) and in the now monthly Many Paths Teacher Panel Series, first Sunday of each month at 6:30pm.
The first two limbs, Yama and Niyama, are two lists of ethical guidelines designed to be practiced both as preparation for and throughout one’s exploration of limbs that follow. They are designed to keep us on the path to happiness and freedom, the promise of yoga. They help the latter limbs to have more impact, and have the most positive effect. In October we focused on the Yamas, the restraints that relate to our relationship to the world around us. November’s focus is Niyama, the restraints or considerations to take into our relationship with ourselves.
The five Niyamas are: saucha (cleanliness), santosha (contentment), tapas (burning enthusiasm or zeal), svadhyaya (self-inquiry), and isvara pranidhana (surrender to that which is all-knowing, that which supports us).
Restraints can seem like shackles to inhabitants of a country based on choice and free-will, but you might actually consider them gateways to freedom. Through restraint we can find a steady course that is less apt to be distracting or aimless.
One way to practice the second limbs of yoga is to choose one of the niyamas to practice for a period of time – a day, week, month, however long you want to commit to.
- Consider what the niyama you choose means to you, research what others have written or said about it, and strengthen your understanding of its place and purpose in the path of yoga
- Bring your awareness to your niyama as you start your day
- Reconnect to the niyama as often as is helpful to seed the habit into a steady pattern of practice.
- Close your day by bringing your niyama back to mind. Reflect on how it has appeared, or not, in your day.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with this practice. Send them to me by November and I’ll post on this blog!
Join me this Sunday, November 3rd at 6:30pm to lead the next Many Paths Teacher Panel, a free offering to our community, at 8 Limbs West Seattle. I am thrilled to moderate a panel consisting of 8 Limbs instructors Jen Yaros, Melina Meza and Maura Barclay. Be there!
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer