Tag Archive for: Yamas

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Ashtanga in The Honey Jar

Do you want to know what meditation is?  If you practice yoga, did you know that yoga postures and meditation are inextricably linked? Meditation is the highest form of yoga.  There are common misconceptions around the terms meditation and mindfulness, and dare I say liberation.  This is the definition of meditation from the point of the Yoga Sutras, a classic yogic text.  Ashtanga, which refers to the 8 limbs of yoga (ashta – eight, anga – limbs), is the foundational text for anyone who wants to bring more of the benefits of their yoga practice into daily life.

#1 Yamas – Why are you buying the honey in the first place? Who are you going to feed it to? Will it in some way bring joy or harmony to others? Yamas are the social ethics of yoga. Feed others only what you would want to eat yourself.

#2 Niyamas – Take the time to read the label before you buy the honey; for your own good.  Buy locally to support your unique geography. The main ingredient in the Niyamas is your own true nature flavored with self-discipline (tapas – the flame of purification). Observe the inner self and be aware of what you put in your body, mind and spirit.  You are what you eat.

#3 Asana – In order to get that thick, golden honey out of the jar, you may need to stir it around a bit first.  But not so much that the jar breaks. Asana refers to the physical practice of yoga, (what is often mistaken as yoga itself.) Just as the honey dipper moves the viscous liquid with both determination and vigilance, yoga postures are done with alertness and ease. Even if the shape of the glass jar does not change, there is movement on the inside. You are creating stability and freedom in the body that will allow it to sit comfortably in meditation .

#4 Pranayama – Have you noticed how air fills the empty spaces in the honey jar? It is like prana in the body.  The jar represents our body of “matter” as we stabilize it in posture. The prana, or life force energy that fills the body in the form of the breath floods and mobilizes those spaces.  Pranayama (prana -life force, ayama – to extend or draw out) is using awareness and technique to regulate the physical and energetic breath. You are balancing the flow of prana in the body.

#5 Pratyahara – The honey slowly begins to trickle down.  You can hear it, see it, smell it, touch it and maybe even imagine the taste.  This is pratyhara, the beginning stage of meditation, which is often confused with meditation itself.  Our mind is active, and something stimulates the senses; we turn them inward to cultivate the experience.  Think of techniques such as guided imagery, yoga nidra, use of mantra or chanting, and pranayama techniques; or zen-like activities like running or surfing can feel meditative.  But we are still doing.

#6 Dharana and #7 Dhyana – The honey comes out at first in spontaneous drips (dharana) and eventually in an even flow (dhyana).  Both of these limbs are states of being as opposed to doing. The difference between the two is quantity vs. quality.  Dharana gives you small tastes of the bliss of meditation as the mind comes and goes.  In a state of Dhyana, your world is nothing but an even flow of honey and you have let go completely into the sukha (sweetness or joy of life).

#8 Samadhi – The full stream of honey is coming out continuously.  We are no longer aware of this though.  We are the honey (liberation to our Divine being-ness and oneness).

Just as eating local honey brings amazing health benefits to your body, meditation drips sweetness into all aspects of our lives.  It is liquid gold for the mind and spirit. You don’t have to be a bee keeper to make 2019 the year to open the honey jar!

Peace and Light,

Megan

Yoga is Not About Getting Your Toe in Your Ear

Before we get into our new blog post, I have some exciting news to share!  My new studio Bear Foot Yoga Healing is opening next month with classes starting soon in Burlington, Wisconsin.  More details coming shortly, in the meantime, visit our Website!

Yoga Journal

I’m about to “paint my masterpiece” in the words of Bob Dylan and open a yoga studio, but first I have a confession. I stopped reading Yoga Journal magazine in the past year, which in my industry is like a trader choosing not to check the stock exchange. In part, my time is better spent doing studio preparations. That is not the reason for ditching YJ though. I haven’t been able to get beyond the cover photos lately. In the vein of “a picture is worth a thousand words” my preconceived perception of the cover is that it frustrates potential yogi’s more than it motivates them. Yes, the models are always gorgeous and wafting with a Shakti power that any woman (and man for a different reason) would want. That is not a truthful representation of yoga.

Truthfulness, or Satya is one of Yamas (principles)of yoga. The YJ cover makes any pose look flawless and effortless. But this is not the truth. Or at least the full truth. It has been drilled into me in every training – yoga is not about attainment of the perfect form. It is about the process not the pose. Why doesn’t YJ get this? Perhaps I am stretching it a bit by discussing Satya . I assume the intention is not to purposely deceive, but very few bodies are capable of achieving YJ photo perfection. With the exception of some Cirque du Soleil potentials, these woman have put countless hours in on the mat to achieve near perfect form for that one photo. Still it is not their beautiful physical bodies that keep them coming back to yoga.

When I look at the current cover, all I can think is “who in their right mind would wear an all white spandex outfit to class”? By the time I unrolled my mat, I would be wearing a patchwork quilt of spilled morning java, kiddie goo and dog prints among other things. Furthermore, what woman would dare, if she could, stick one leg straight up in the air a foot above her head wearing see-through white pants and smile? Too young for mentalpause, obviously, the model does not have her mensies. At least this month’s model is not in some funky version of handstand, abdomen fully exposed, sans Buddha belly and muffin top. Hair is not a point for discussion just on the assumption that the models most likely showered before the photo shoot. Until the glorious day they put a woman on the cover with messy hair, panties hanging off a sweaty bum, and an “I don’t give a crap if I look like hell because I feel good look”, I will not offer to model.

 

Perhaps I am being a bit hard on YJ. Please YJ people, don’t hold this against me. Your articles are informational and interesting. For decades, you have brought yoga to the people. I also get that it is good to have goals. And for some that may be the ascertainment of one of what I label the “party poses”; usually when some tiny part of the body is grounded to the earth and one of the four limbs is wrapped around it like a scarf in a blizzard. Even after years of practice, your cover shots are unattainable to most yogis. Until there is a camera that shows what yoga does to the body on the subtle level, your cover photos are intimidating art. Beautiful, but laughable. Even if you read YJ, please come and visit me when the studio opens. I will have copies available for your viewing pleasure. Just know that that the goddess cover models don’t have anything on you. Because what they don’t tell you on the cover is that if you breath you can do yoga. And even if you can’t smile in a pose, yoga will make you smile in the heart.