Yesterday, for a split second, I got into handstand for the first time by myself.
Keep in mind, yoga is not about mastering the physical practice. The physical practice of yoga is a metaphor for life.
I focused on something for a very long time and finally accomplished it. Yoga happens when I take those skills off the mat and relate them to my day-to-day life.
Yoga teaches us that when we concentrate the mind on something, we can achieve it. Yoga also teaches us that we can control our mood, our chattering mind and our body by controlling our breath.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga
As defined by Patanjali, the great yogic sage, yoga has 8 limbs. The first four limbs of yoga pertain to the practical and physical nature of life:
- The Yamas (ethical observances) teach us how to deal with the outside world.
- The Niyamas (restraints) teach us how to deal with ourselves.
- Asana (postures) teaches us to treat our body like a temple, to keep it strong and healthy.
- Pranayama (breathwork) teaches us to relax the mind.
The remaining four limbs focus on the evolution of the spirit:
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) teaches us to turn our attention inward.
- Dharana (concentration), teaches us to focus the power of the mind.
- Dhyana (meditation), teaches us to be aware in the present moment
- Samadhi (bliss, absolute union), teaches us we are bigger than our bodies and we can connect to the source of all things.
Soul Meets Body
I read a profound quote yesterday that a fellow blogger and yogi posted on Facebook.
“You do not have a soul. You are your soul. You have a body.” -C.S. Lewis
The purpose of practicing the postures is to live your yoga off of the mat so that the spirit can be ever evolving like a tree growing up toward the heavens.
And just like the tree, before we can evolve, we must be rooted in what is manifested here on Earth, our physical being.
I practice yoga because it elevates my mind, my body, ultimately uniting me with my true self, my spirit.
That is the path of the yogi.