In yoga we believe, we are all connected, and that we are all a part of a larger Universal life and scheme of things. No one can survive, succeed or create anything on their own without the help of their near dear and loved ones. Being grateful and respectful is also an integral part of the ancient Indian culture that teaches us Humility, one of the most important limbs of Ashtanga (eight limbs) Yoga.
Yoga, my passion since the age of 9, has over the years only grown stronger. The true, authentic and traditional yoga practice as many of us know, is about life and balance as a whole. At some point in our life, sooner or later, we ask ourselves, what are we looking to get from life? What is the most important thing I want in Life?
Some of the common answers to this question would be education, money, job, marriage, children, relationship, security, safety, trust and on and on. Some would be a bit more personal. Now, once you get the answer to your first question, ask yourself the second question. Why is this important to me? Dig deeper, and an answer to all of these leading questions, ultimately you should be able to come to HAPPINESS and fulfillment, self satisfaction.
Great. Now ask yourself, if you want to be happy for a little while or a long time or always. Take an example. Choose an event or time in your life, past or present. Make a list of 3 things extremely important to you at that point and time. Revisit the list in a few days, weeks or months and see if any of these were achieved. Think if they made you happy and if yes, how long did this happiness last? Aha.
Notice how the mind moves from one happiness to the next. This is just an example of how the mind never quiets down to allows you to sit still and think. In fact, it keeps us so busy, it does not allow us any free time to truly think what we really want. We are always looking for something new, something different that we think will bring us happiness. Notice how a majority of these happy occasions are temporary, short term happiness. We all do this all our life and guess what ! At the end of the life span, or half way thru our life, many of us still feel incomplete, empty from within, unhappy and dissatisfied with our life. Why is this so?
It is mostly because we have never learned to look within to balance ourselves as a whole. We always try to find happiness from the outside world expecting other people and things to make us happy. In our habits of eating, drinking, sleeping, traveling, working, playing, shopping and so on. There is a need for balance and we have never truly tried to go within ourselves to take a step back and think what we really want, until it’s too late. Have we ever noticed what happens when we try to stop, control or not listen to something that our mind wants us to do? It is even possible? Remember, you are not your mind. You are the one who wants to run the mind but right now, the mind is controlling you. Well, it is a challenging exercise for one of our relaxation and mediation sessions. Let’s keep it for another day.
Here is where comes in the practice of yoga, yogic life style that helps us to strike a balance between our wants, needs and requirements and focus on an all round development and success of this one and only precious Human life.
One of the ways this balance can be achieved is by diligently following the path of Ashtanga Yoga or the eight Limbs of YOGA, as mentioned in the “Yoga sutras” By Patanjali. (Oldest Yoga scriptures).
Following the ashtanga yoga, one learns to exercise self control of one’s body, mind, breath, food, drink, thoughts, senses and ultimately as a result, reach the highest level of true happiness, self satisfaction and even super-self consciousness. These eight limbs are summarized and followed typically in the order as:
Yama (learn and practice the moral codes and conducts)
Niyama (self-imposed control and discipline for higher attainment)
Asana (postures /physical yoga poses to keep the physical body fit)
Pranayama (Learn breath control within the body)
Pratyahara (Learn to control of the senses)
Dharana (concentration of mind)
Dhyana ( Learn relaxation and meditation)
Samadhi (ultimate state of happiness or super consciousness/self enlightenment)
It is about the connection between, body, mind, breath, intellect and creating a perfect balance between all to achieve the ultimate blissful experience towards true happiness. In order to achieve this, we need to balance this Human body that we are born in. According to Yoga, the human body is made up of five layers or sheaths known as “Panch Kosha” in Sanskrit (Pancha-means five, Kosha –means layers or sheaths) namely;
Annamaya Kosha, – The Physical body
Pranamaya kosha, – The breath, energy field or life force within the body
Manomaya kosha, – The emotional body
Vigyanmaya Kosha- The scientific body
Gyaanmaya kosha- The ultimate wisdom/intellect/pure consciousness
All of these five koshas work hand in hand with each other. Just like your car. Let’s say you have a beautiful car that has your favorite color and a leather interior with sun/moon roof, stereo, the navigation system and all. The car however has not had an oil change in a long time or the engine has not been kept up. The Brakes need attention and the tyres have not been rotated. How is this car going to function? Our human body is just the same. It needs to be clean, pretty, and in excellent working condition not just from outside but from within as well. How can we do this? By focusing on keeping all five koshas in great condition.