Category Archives: Meditation

How to Create an Altar or Sacred Space

Ultimately, the whole world is one’s altar. One’s sacred space is a place within, that we can tune into at any time to feel connected to our own True Self. However, there is something so nurturing and simply sacred about having a physical altar that we can turn to for daily inspiration and energy.

So here are some guidelines and inspiration to get you started on creating your own individual altar and sacred space!

WHAT IS AN ALTAR

Altars are sacred, defined spaces used in wisdom traditions, world religions and in the personal homes of spiritual seekers of all backgrounds from around the world.

An altar is a space that one may go to daily to recharge with positivity, gain inspiration for living a spirited life. One’s altar acts as a mirror and outer manifestation of our own Divine inner world to help us stay connected with our own Highest Self and the Absolute Oneness that connects us all.

Altars are sacred spaces often devoted to spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, reflection, prayer, chanting, introspection, ritual, worship, or enjoyed simply as a space of sheer beauty, embodying the peace and calm one may seek.

Personal altars may range from being very simple or quite elaborate, and are created with items and elements of personal inspiration based on ones own individual path or lineage, preferences and reminders of Divinity.

WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE AN ALTAR

Creating sacred space for yourself is a sure way to nourish your soul! Creating a peaceful, calm, nurturing external environment, naturally our inner world begins to make this shift also.

An altar space is a safe, inspiring, nourishing space we can go to daily for inspiration, peace, to connect with our own innate wisdom and indulge in introspection.

In time, we begin to build a relationship with our altar. As we sit before the altar in spiritual practices (sadhana,) we begin to charge our altar with positive and healing energy. In turn, the altar items build and contain that energy and reflect it back to us as we practice within its proximity.

In this way, the altar is a constant reflection of our practices, love and devotion towards living a spirited life, and we are benefited greatly from this exchange.

INSPIRATION FOR HOW TO CREATE AN ALTAR

The possibilities for your altar creation are endless— use your intuition and listen to your heart when desiring your own unique sacred space!

You can set up your altar anywhere, but ideally you might choose the most comfortable, quiet and peaceful area of your home— and preferably a space where you could close the door and not be disturbed.

The foundation of your altar can be anything from a small table, platform, plate or tray, piece of fabric or dharba mat on the floor or a shelf you have.

To adorn your altar, based on your own beliefs, traditions, inspiration and intentions, choose objects, images or substances that personally connect you to your own True Self and remind you of Divinity.

Here are some examples:

+ Images of your Beloveds— your teachers, people of inspiration, saints, deities/archetypes, your family, partner etc.
+ Idols (murthis) of your own personal form of God (Ishta Devata)— Jesus Christ, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Allah, Saraswati, Angels, totem animals etc.
+ Items of inspiration that you feel connected to such as a seashell or feather you brought back from a life-changing adventure, beautiful art, tarot cards, books etc.
+ Delight your senses with textures, sights, smells, sounds. For example, in your space you can have cozy pillows, blankets or fabrics you love or mala beads for touch, the smell of your favorite aromatherapy oils diffusing, nourishing sounds of nature or soothing music to bring you into harmony, and plants, beautiful things or art that feed your eyes!
+ Include colors that invoke positive feelings within you and help you to feel precisely how you want to feel in that space.
+ Words of wisdom. You may write down and include a personal prayer, intention, affirmation, favorite inspirational quote, gratitude list or favorite mantra.
+ Invite the 5 elements. For example, you may wish to include:

Water = fresh or holy water contained in a vessel, or a small water fountain
Earth = plants, flowers, gemstones, crystals, mala beads
Fire = candles, ghee/oil lamps
Air = burning incense, sage, palo santo
Ether/Space = burn camphor, the invisible scent of flowers, chant Om, singing bowl

BONUS ALTAR CREATION TIPS

+ Try to set up your altar in a way that allows you to sit facing East or North for spiritual practices— the most auspicious directions.

+ When possible, choose metals or combined metals like gold, silver, copper or brass for idols (murthis,) as they hold a charge more than substances like wood or stone.

+ Turn your personal space into a sanctuary by clearing out clutter, mess, or unnecessary items from the space around your altar.

+ Create and initiate your altar with a grateful heart and feed your altar with love and appreciation every time you see it.

ALTAR MAINTENANCE

Here are a few tips to help preserve and build the energy of your altar space so you can receive even more benefit from the altar!

+ Never point your feet towards the altar.
+ Only items that are new and clean should be put on the altar (new incense, candles, even clean the altar with new paper towel each time, or have a special cloth used only for cleaning altar.)
+ Never place sacred objects directly on the floor— you may use a cloth underneath as a barrier if necessary.
+ Avoid moving your altar or altar objects around unnecessarily. Keeping your altar fixed helps to prevent dissipating the energy preserved within it.
+ Keep it clean— regularly wipe any incense remnants, dust, candle wax drips.
+ Avoid placing mundane objects on the altar such as cups, phones, lighters, pens etc.
+ The fragrance and beauty of elements of nature such as flowers, are given as offerings to the Divine and are not meant to be intentionally smelled.
+ Put nature back into nature— altar objects absorb the energy of offerings such as flowers and give energy back to the flower – in this way, the flowers given to the altar are considered sacred and should be put back into nature, not thrown in the garbage.

Now it’s time to get started on creating your own personal altar and sacred space! What will you include on your altar?

4 Key Aspects of Yogic Living (+ Tips for Staying True on the Path!)

We hold within us all infinite wisdom and endless knowledge. Already, we hold within all that we could ever need to come home to the remembrance of who we really are. Ultimately, we require nothing outside of what is here, now and within to remember Truth.

However, we live in an age that tends to have some distractions and confusion which clouds our perception of Reality. To help create ease on your journey, here are four key aspects of yoga to help maintain, inspire and encourage you on the path of awakening and enlightened living.

1) Spiritual Community (Sangha)

If you have even one person in your life on the same or a similar path as you, you’ve encountered a great blessing. In yoga, we call our spiritual community our Sangha. Sangha is a valuable part of our spirituality. Being immersed in a community of like-minded souls is inspiring, grounding, and uplifting. It is invaluable when it comes to living an inspired, conscious yogic life, and realizing the Truth of our own Divine Nature. Your Sangha is an endless source of love, support, inspiration, connection and a safe space to Be As You Are.

When possible, choose to surround yourself with positive, wise, peaceful, truth-seeking, love-embodying people, places and nature that encourage and inspire you on your spiritual journey— on the path to the remembrance of your True Nature.

2) Spiritual Practice (Sadhana)

Practice, practice, practice. Sadhana is our daily spiritual practice or discipline. To experience the true Bliss, Freedom and Peace that is our Natural State, we as yogis have incredibly valuable tools and practices available to us to help guide us into this state of Being.

Create a daily Sadhana that resonates with your heart. Your Sadhana may include yoga poses (Asana,) breathing techniques (Pranayama,) meditation (Dharana,) chanting mantra, kirtan, or self-reflection. Shorter, more frequent practices are more beneficial than longer practices done sporadically. A daily and consistent practice is the key to enlightened living.

3) Spiritual Texts (Svadhyaya)

On our spiritual journey, reading the sacred texts written by the enlightened sages and saints is an invaluable source of wisdom and inspiration. Svadhyaya means “self-study” and includes study of the classical texts of yoga—the authorities of classical yogic and vedic knowledge.

Some simple and inspiring texts to read are:
+ “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda
+ “Living with the Himalayan Masters” by Swami Rama
+ “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” commentary by Swami Durgananda
+ “Bhagavad Gita” commentary by Swami Sivananda
+ “Be As You Are” teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

4) Spiritual Teacher (Guru)

Ultimately, life is full of teachers— teachers come in many forms and the whole world is our classroom. However, it is a great gift to have a spiritual teacher whom we can connect with and receive knowledge and inspiration from.

The Sanskrit word guru means “gu” (darkness,) and “ru” (that which dispels.) The guru is a spiritual teacher who helps guide us from unreal to real, darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge. A Sattvic Guru is an embodiment of Love, Peace and Truth. In their presence, we are uplifted and humbly guided into our own awakening.

You must listen to your heart while searching for your teachers. Seek out a teacher for whom emanates Love, Truth and Peace. Choose a teacher who is devoted to their own practice and awakening, comes from a traditional lineage, and who follows ancient scriptures not only in words but in everyday life.

Additionally, look to the yoga masters for inspiration— the great sages, spiritual masters and realized beings for guidance— teachers like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Amma Sri Karunamayi, Swami Saraswati Sivananda, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the Buddha, Jesus Christ and many other enlightened souls who have devoted their lives to the path of Realization have passed down the ancient traditions of yoga generation after generation.

Immerse yourself in the greatness of Sangha (Spiritual Community,) Sadhana (Spiritual Practice,) Svadhyaya (Self-Study + Spiritual Texts,) and in Wisdom from the Guru (Spiritual Teacher) to inspire you on your journey of Awakening and Yogic living. May we all be blessed as we come Home.

7 Sacred Mantras for Spiritual Illumination

Mantras are powerful sacred sound vibrations from the ancient Sanskrit language that are traditionally chanted during spiritual practices in the yogic tradition.

Mantras are composed of Sanskrit letters, each infused with unique frequencies— much like scientific formulas of sound vibration known to have unique qualities, effects and energies. Similarly, Mantras act like a secret password to various aspects of our inner dimension. They are said to hold subtle knowledge in their vibration, and cleanse the body, mind and spirit.

Repetition of a Mantra is proven to have incredible benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. They are scientifically proven to help calm the mind, balance the nervous system, evoke knowledge, assist in healing the body and mind, increase physiological alertness and synchronicity of certain biorhythms, increase health and well-being and create a single-pointed, concentrated awareness in the mind.

Choose one of the following Mantras that resonates with your heart for your highest good and for the greater good of all Beings everywhere.

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Om Namah Shivaya
 (Aum Na-mah She-vai-yah)
Rebirth. Letting go. Healing. Surrender. Strength. Compassion.

Om Gam Ganapatayae Namaha
 (Aum Gah-mm Gah-na-pat-eye-aye Na-ma-ha)
Overcoming Obstacles. Inner Wisdom. Ease. Supreme Knowledge. Awakening.

Om Hrim Dhum Durga Devai Namaha (Aum Hreem Doom Dur-gah Dev-yay Na-ma-ha)
Protection. Truth. Courage. Power. Purity. Fearlessness. Forgiveness.

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (Aum Low-kah Some-ah-sta Sook-ee-no Bah-van-too)
Peace Prayer: May all beings everywhere be happy and free of suffering.

Om Shring Hring Kleeng Mahalakshmi Namaha (Aum Shh-ring H-ring Cling Mahah-Luck-shh-mee Na-ma-ha)
Abundance. Dharma – Purpose. Beauty. Freedom. Success.

Om Aim Shrim Hrim Saraswati Devyai Namaha (Aum I’m Shreem Hreem Sara-swat-ee Dave-yay Na-ma-ha)
Creativity. Highest Knowledge. Arts. Intelligence. Beauty. Truth. Expression.

Om Aim Klim Somaya Namaha (Aum I’m Kleem Soma-Ya Na-ma-ha
Secret Knowledge of the Moon. Surrender. Peace. Receptivity. Divine Feminine.

With love, practice, and intention invite the secret power of mantras into your daily practice and life and witness great benefit for yourself and all beings everywhere.

Om: The Sound of the Universe

In our first few yoga classes, it may seem a little strange or awkward to loudly chant a funny “home” like sound before we begin our yoga practice— but with a bit of understanding and practice, you may just fall in love with the beauty and benefits of the incredible sound of Om.

WHAT IS OM?

Om is a sacred mantra and sound vibration traditionally chanted before and after spiritual practices in the yogic tradition.

Mantras are like scientific formulas of sound vibration known to have unique qualities, effects and energies. Repetition of mantras, including the sound of Om, are proven to have incredible benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.

Om is one of the most simple and ancient mantras, or sound vibrations. Known as the sacred primordial sound, it is said in the yogic tradition that all sound is born from Om. Om is known as the original vibration of the universe.

This sacred sound is composed of three fundamental syllables – A U M, which represents the various states of awareness, and the trinity of divine energies of Creation, Preservation and Liberation.

Within Aum, the first sound is “awe,” then the sound “oo,” then “mmm,” followed by a pause of silence.
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WHY SHOULD WE CHANT OM?

All life on earth is simply energy, occupying space and matter. Everything we’ve ever known is simply vibration resonating at various frequencies. Similarly, chanting the sound vibration of Om is mathematically consistent with the frequency found throughout everything in nature and the universe.

Known as the “sound of the universe,” the sacred primordial sound and original vibration, the practice of chanting Om is like training our own vibration back to our original resonance— our True Nature. We are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound frequency and remembering our connection to all living beings, nature and the universe.

Chanting Om is like turning on the switch to cosmic energy— it is the transmission of pure Divine Love, and therefore it is necessary to first chant Om before and after spiritual practices to both initiate and seal the energy, as well as before chanting other mantras to have the full effect.

Mantras, including Om, are indestructible positive energies— meaning they remain in the cosmos indefinitely for the greater good of all and help reduce negative karmas.

Additionally, the repetition of Om is scientifically proven to help calm the mind, balance the nervous system, evoke knowledge, assist in healing the body and mind, increase physiological alertness and synchronicity of certain biorhythms, increase health and well-being and create a single-pointed, concentrated awareness in the mind.

HOW TO OM

Om acts as bookends to the practice. It establishes the beginning and end of Sadhana, yoga or spiritual practices such as meditation, pranayama, yoga asana, or chanting other mantra. It helps to differentiate the practice from other parts of the day, and contain the energy within the practice.

To open your yoga and spiritual practices with Om, try this:

1) Find a comfortable position with an upright spine and eyes closed.
2) Take a moment to ground, center, focus with love and gratitude in your heart.
3) Take a deep breath in, and on the exhale make the sound AUM (awe, oo, mmm.)
4) Repeat 3 or 9 times total.

TIPS FOR CHANTING OM

Begin the “awe” sound of AUM at a lower resonance, and then raise the sound to a higher note as you sound “oo” and “mmm.”

Create equal length of all three sounds A,U,M. And finish the whole sound with a pause of silence as you take your next big inhalation to create the next sound.

Visualize moving the vibration from the lower chakras, up and out through the crown of the head as you feel the sound raising up through your lower belly, chest and head.

On the “mmm” sound of AUM, you may try pressing the tip of your tongue to the roof of the mouth to help rise the energy into the higher chakras.

When chanted with devotion, love and sincerity, the positive effects of the vibrations are catalyzed and made more powerful.

With a greater understanding of the meaning of Om, may you receive more from and deepen your yoga practice, remember your True Nature, and return to Oneness.

The Secret Power of Mantra

Mantras are powerful sacred sound vibrations from the ancient Sanskrit language that are traditionally chanted during spiritual practices in the yogic tradition.

The word Mantra comes from the Sanskrit root words “manas” = mind, and “tra” = to protect. Mantra means that which protects the mind from both internal and external negative influences.

Mantras are composed of Sanskrit letters, each infused with unique frequencies— much like scientific formulas of sound vibration known to have unique qualities, effects and energies. Similarly, Mantras act like a secret password to various aspects of our inner dimension. They are said to hold subtle knowledge in their vibration, and cleanse the body, mind and spirit.

Repetition of a Mantra is proven to have incredible benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. They are scientifically proven to help calm the mind, balance the nervous system, evoke knowledge, assist in healing the body and mind, increase physiological alertness and synchronicity of certain biorhythms, increase health and well-being and create a single-pointed, concentrated awareness in the mind.

Additionally, Mantras are considered indestructible positive energies— meaning they remain in the cosmos indefinitely for the greater good of all; helping to reduce negative karmas.

The physical, mental, spiritual benefits and positive effects of chanting sacred mantras are infinite and powerful for both the individual and all beings everywhere.

Here are a few yoga secrets to unlocking the true potential of mantras.

1) Intention

Chanting Mantra with the deepest integrity of intent— with devotion, love, concentration, faith, awareness, commitment and sincerity catalyzes the positive effects of the vibrations and are made more powerful than chanting mechanically. Close your eyes and chant Mantra straight from your heart.

2) Open with Om

Om, the Pranava Mantra, is an incredibly simple but powerful sacred Mantra. It is traditionally chanted before and after spiritual practices in the yogic tradition. Om is known as the sacred primordial sound, it is said in the yogic tradition that all sound is born from Om.

Chanting Om before chanting other Mantras acts as a primer for the others. Its resonance activates all other Mantras and makes them more powerful. It’s vibration is like turning on a switch to receiving cosmic energy— it is the transmission of pure Divine Love. It is necessary to both chant Om before and after spiritual practices to both initiate and seal the energy, as well as before chanting other mantras to have the full effect.

3) Correctness

Mantras may be chanted aloud, whispered at the lips or silently within, and are made more impactful when recited with correct pronunciation, rhythm and pace. Learning from a highly knowledgeable teacher or guru can help you understand how to chant mantras correctly so you can receive more from your Mantra practices.

4) Repetition

The yogic tradition has specific numbers that are considered auspicious for chanting mantra. Repeating your mantra 3, 9, 27, 54 or 108 times is considered ideal and complete in the yogic tradition for many reasons with great symbolism. Authentic prayer beads (Malas,) will have 54 or 108 beads to help you count to higher numbers of mantra repetition.

5) Initiation

When you are initiated to a mantra from a realized teacher or guru, the power of the mantra is increased immensely. Initiation is like unlocking the gate to the mantras full energetic potential and attunes the initiated one to its divine energies.

6) Practice

Create a daily Mantra Sadhana (daily mantra spiritual practice) to increase the power of the mantras. You may chant mantra during your daily yoga or meditation practice or as its own practice.

With love, practice, and intention invite the secret power of mantras into your daily practice and life and witness great benefit for yourself and all beings everywhere.

Want to learn more? Check out these 7 Sacred Mantras for Spiritual Illumination!

How to Develop a Daily Yoga Practice

There are endless benefits to developing a daily yoga practice or spiritual practice. Many people know these benefits and want to create a daily practice, but perhaps don’t know what to do, how to do it, or how to maintain a daily practice long term.

This is a common challenge I hear from students and one that I myself have experienced through years of practice. In yoga, we call our daily yoga or spiritual pratice, sadhana. Here are four ways to overcome challenges on the path of sadhana so you can develop a daily practice and experience greater degrees of love, freedom, peace, and bliss in your life

1. Take the conditions out of your practice.

Sometimes, we are perfectionists in life and how we approach our practice is no different. We think that in order to be a yogi or develop a sadhana, we must have several hours a day, be stress free with little or no responsibility, endless energy, and have a tranquil, well decorated yoga room dedicated to practice. We place so much emphasis on perfection that we may fluctuate between practicing intensely for a short period of time, to then not practicing at all for a few days, weeks or months.

Troubleshoot common challenges to creating a daily practice:

+ “I don’t have time to practice.” | Do what you can, 5 or 10 minutes is enough.
+ “My house is too messy.” | Clean it up or don’t worry about it. Yoga is a practice of our inner experience, so the outer world isn’t too important for the practice.
+ “I’m too busy.” | Do your best to carve out time to practice. And practice mindfulness as you go through your busy day.
+ “I don’t have enough money to go to a class.” | Develop a home practice for free.
+ “I don’t know what to do.” | Go to a class at your local studio or do a free online yoga video or guided meditation.
+ “I’m too tired or lazy to practice.” | Great, honor how you feel, and try a more gently practice like yin yoga, restorative, yoga nidra or meditate to restore you. You may feel more energized after!
+ “I prefer to practice in the morning/evening and I was busy during that time.” | Creating a routine is valuable, but it’s important to also be flexible with your practice. Practicing at a different time of the day is better than not practicing at all. 

2. Make yoga your path.

Transform your practice into your path. Make yoga not only something you do, but how you live your life. Invite mindfulness, peace, and breath into all that you do and even the most mundane of tasks become sacred acts of devotion and union, which is the meaning of the word yoga in Sanskrit.

While asana, the physical poses of yoga, and meditation are important and valuable pieces of the yoga puzzle, there is more to yoga than these alone. In Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras, the two founding limbs of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas, are a code of morals and ethics which allow us to interact peacefully with the outer world, and with our inner experience. The Yamas teach us a path of non-violence, honesty, non-stealing, moderation, and non-attachment. The Niyamas encourage us to live a life of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. As Dharma Mittra says, “no Yama, no yoga.” If all you do is practice non-violence, ahimsa, the first of the Yamas as your spiritual practice— you are already a great yogi.

Transform your practice from an act of discipline into an act of devotion and your practice becomes an empowering, sacred infinite opportunity and choice to connect with yourself, and unite with Divinity.

3. Create ease in your practice.

Life, yoga and meditation can be challenging enough, no need to make things harder than they need to be. The practice of yoga is powerful, but subtle. Give yourself the permission to be gentle with yourself and your practice. When we push ourselves too hard with our practice, we may exhaust ourselves and then feel resistance to practicing. Practice as much as possible— but consistent, shorter, more frequent practices will benefit you more than longer, more intense practices done less frequently.

Create a practice that is simple, peaceful and that you enjoy doing and you may feel more drawn to practicing regularly. If slowing down your practice helps—do it. If using props or sitting in a chair while you meditate allows you to feel more comfortable—allow it to be. If doing less yoga postures and more meditation, chanting, or breathing exercises feels good— do this. If you prefer meditating in the morning/evening/before/after asana, yoga postures— do as you wish.

4. Develop a ritual.

 As much as possible, try to create a daily routine – or better yet, make it a ritual. Sculpt out time every day to practice, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. And as best as you can, try to make it consistent. Developing a routine time to practice gives instructions to your subconscious and may allow you to go deeper with practice.

Explore the infinity of yoga— There is an infinite depth to yoga that extends far beyond the physical postures. Yoga is the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical and more code of yoga, yoga is Bhakthi— a path of love and devotion, Karma— a path of selfless service, Raja— a path of self-discipline, and Jnana— a path of self-inquiry and realization. Yoga is chanting mantra, meditation, prayer, pranayama, mindfulness, and union.

Having a sadhana sequence that you follow is very helpful in creating a routine. Through practice, your subconscious will begin to memorize what your practice guides you to find within yourself and you will be able to reveal it with more ease, depth and clarity.

Consistency is key. You will benefit more from shorter, more frequent practices, than longer and more intense sessions practiced less frequently.

Here is a beginner-friendly Sadhana practice that you may practice every day. Modify it as you wish and for what your schedule allows to make it your own.

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Create space | Enter Practice
+ Set up/clean altar. + Light candle and incense. + Get mat and props for meditation and asana.
+ Come into meditation seat. Ground, centre, withdraw inwardly (Pratyahara)
+ Open practice with Om x 3 + Set intention (Sankalpa) | Say Prayer | Gratitude
+ Chin Mudra: hands are palms facing up in the lap in with the thumbs and index finger connected.

Pranayama
+ Watch the breath + Ujjayi Pranayama + Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Concentration | Meditation
+ Drishti: navel, heart, space between the eyebrows
+ Watch the gap between the breaths
+ Mantra repetition: Om Namah Shivaya, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
+ Steep in the Bliss of simply Being

Yoga Postures (Asana) | Preferred Poses of the Day
+ Ground | Centre | Repeat Intention
+ Warm-Up
+ Standing | Strengthening | Balancing
+ Core work | Inversions
+ Backbending | Hip Openers | Twists
+ Savasana

Return | Close Practice
+ Om x 3 | Restate intention | Gratitude | Return

Creating a daily yoga practice or spiritual practice is one of the greatest gifts you can offer yourself to experience greater degrees of peace, freedom, love, bliss and truth in your life. Take the conditions out of your practice, make your yoga your path, create a practice you love to do, and make a daily ritual of if. Develop a daily yoga practice today!

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The Yogi Code | The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs of Yoga are outlined in detail in the roughly two thousand year old texts, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. These ancient texts are much like a yogis’ handbook; an instruction manual on how to live a happy, fulfilling, spiritual and peaceful life.

There is so much more to yoga than the familiar physical practice of yoga poses. There is a whole system to it, a yogi’s code, full of observances, ethics, practices and restraints to inspire you to embrace yoga as a lifestyle and help you navigate through life with ease.

1. Yama: Ethical practices to interact with the outer world.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation of the 8 limbs of yoga, and are valuable steps to living a conscious life. They are a sum of values and virtues available to us, so we may relate with and co-exist peacefully with all beings, ourselves and with the planet. They can be broken down into 5 specific areas each:

a. Ahimsa: non-violence, non-aggression, compassion, forgiveness, kindness— love.
b. Satya: truth, honesty, sincerity, living your truth; your sacred purpose or dharma.
c. Asteya: non-stealing, take only what is offered – use only what is needed.
d. Brahmacharya: preservation of vital life force energy.
e. Aparigraha: non-greed, non-hoarding, non-collection, non-gluttony.

2. Niyama: A moral code of observances to cultivate a positive relationship with ones self and inner world.

a. Saucha: purity, cleanliness
b. Santosha: contentment, the art of being happy for no particular reason
c. Tapas: austerity, self-discipline, passion
d. Svhadyaya: Self-study, awareness of the Self, study of texts.
e. Isvara Pranidhana: devotion to divinity, celebrating the divinity and oneness within all beings, surrender to faith, contemplation of a higher power.

3. Asana: Yoga Poses

This is what we tend to think of yoga as in the west; people twisting their body into unique shapes. The physical yoga postures are only one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga which is the entire system and practice of yoga. Yoga poses, asanas’, care for our physical bodies; the vessel that our spirit resides in throughout this lifetime. Yoga poses strengthen and open our bodies, so we can be comfortable and healthy in our bodies, and so we are able to sit for periods of time in meditation.

4. Pranayama: Breathing Practices

The breath is critical for sustaining life. In yoga, we perform breathing exercises and techniques to circulate and direct our prana, the life force energy within all living beings and to calm and balance the mind and body.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal from senses.

After practicing yoga for a period of time, we naturally begin to withdraw from our sensory experience, meaning from the experiences of our 5 outward senses, and our attention is drawn inward, focusing on our inner experience.

6. Dharana: Concentration

When we concentrate, we free the mind of senseless chatter. We experience mental clarity. In yoga, we practice focus, observation and concentration. Our focus can be directed either inwardly (like in yoga nidra on various parts of the body, or outwardly, by finding our drishti, a single point of focus to gaze upon, to help us balance in yoga poses.

7. Dhyana: Meditation

Meditation is a state of being; it is an experience of nothingness and infinity simultaneously, without effort or thought. It is zen. It is absorption into pure silence and stillness. Everyone experiences meditation in many different ways. For some of us, it’s gazing into the heart of a setting sun, for others it is through dance, or through art. It is the experience of being so deeply absorbed into what is happening. It is thoughtless, and timeless.

8. Samadhi: Bliss | Enlightenment

Bliss, or enlightenment, is the ultimate goal of yoga. Bliss occurs through the transcendence of the ego. Upon the divine realization of the ultimate oneness of all. It is the purest state of being.

Your Yogi Challenge:

I invite you to practice the 8 limbs of yoga. Begin with the Yamas. Study them. Learn them. Memorize them. And practice them every day for a week, both on and off the mat. Master them. And the following week, move on to the Niyamas. Then asana. And so on, until you yourself, experience Divine Bliss.

These 8 Limbs of Yoga, from the Yamas to Samadhi, are like a pyramid or stepping stones to living a happy, fulfilling, peaceful and spiritual life. Allow the 8 Limbs of Yoga, this Yogi Code, to be your compass as you navigate through life.

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Grounding Meditation

This meditation is incredibly powerful when you are feeling disconnected, anxious or restless. When life gets too busy, when you find your thoughts are all over the place, or your days just feel chaotic.

Grounding is our anchor in life, and without this anchor, we float around aimlessly, tossed about by the winds and waves of life.

This grounding meditation guides you into grounding your energy, focusing your mind and connects you intimately with the love and support of Mother earth so you can feel connected, secure, clear and so incredibly calm.

Full “Inner Devotions” Meditation Series; to be released soon.