Around the second or third century CE, lived a groovy dude called Patanjali.
How do we know this?
Because he wrote a bunch of cool stuff.
The Yoga Sutra, which many yogi’s base they whole philosophy of life on.
Way back then, he wrote about how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, and like all good words, they have no time restraints.
It’s as relevant now as it was then.
I mean, isn’t that what everyone wants, meaning to their lives?
He broke it down for us, so helpful was this old fella, it sits comfortably within eight categories, some with little more to it than others.
Here is a quick rundown, I’ll be doing a blog on each one of them in turn and giving you ideas on how our modern day lifestyle can be interpreted in this philosophy.
It might also be relevant now to say that this is not religious in any way or attached to any secular theology.
1. Yama - ethical standards. There are 5 Yamas
2. Niyama - self-discipline and spiritual awareness. Here there are 5 Niyamas also:
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: the study of the sacred scriptures and one's self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
3. Asana is what most people think of ‘yoga’- the poses. The poses help us strengthen our bodies, balance ourselves, aids digestion, encourages discipline and strengthens the bones. It helps us prepare for sitting for an extended time in meditation.
4. Pranayama are the breathing techniques I teach all the time. It’s a calming practice and helps settle the mind, nervous system and gives us a tool to help control our thoughts.
5. Pratyahara is learning to withdraw. This may sound a little harsh, but it’s important that we learn to detach ourselves from negative emotional thoughts that may be causing physical manifestations within our bodies. We can take a step back when we observe ourselves having cravings, or realign in a particular way, and we can then choose our reactions, not allow our minds to take over and react for us.
6. Dharana means concentration. In a day when we struggle to concentrate for more than 3 seconds (don’t believe me? Try this: Quite your mind and take a breath IN and count to 1, breathe out, next IN breath count 2, breathe out, then continue counting upwards as you take in breaths. If you’re like most people, thoughts will start coming into your mind at about 3 seconds and you may even start to lose concentration.)
Now, where was I? Ah, Dharana - concentration LOL.
Dharana is sometimes thought of as mindfulness, being completely IN the moment, with no other physical or mental distractions.
7. Dhyana is quiet contemplation or meditation. If you say you're really good at meditation and you find it easy, I’d be sceptical, it’s hard, but worth it with the enormous amounts of benefits it brings along with it.
My personal belief is that mediation isn’t about stopping your thoughts, but bringing awareness to them, and choosing which thoughts are going to take up the precious space in your mind.
After practising for a while, you will find that your thoughts start to become very quiet and it’s not so cluttered in your mind. It’s a very peaceful place to be. If you want to have a go at meditation, there is a free 7-day challenge I have put together. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/free7daymeditationchallenge
8. Samadhi, or bliss.
This is the state of enlightenment some people talk about, the place of connection, peace and joy. A feeling akin to an orgasm, complete freedom of the body and joy.