Om Away From Home

Coming to California for a three month yoga retreat, residing on the hilltops well above Santa Cruz at Mount Madonna in the midst of the Redwoods, was a no-brainer once I put aside my hopes and fears for winter 2011. I was totally expecting to find myself lapping up the yoga asana lifestyle and community with outright abandon and vigour. The biggest of my intentions was to establish a daily yoga practice for each day here on the mountain. Little did I expect to find here: a greater depth of yoga understanding beyond the practise of asana. Asana is but only 1 of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. Both meditation and pranayama practices are strongly favoured as part of Babaji’s integral yoga teachings here at MMC. To experience a new appreciation for and awareness of the different methodologies that make up yoga’s 8 limbs is a really amazing process and journey. All this as we come in to our second week here. The next 3 months is going to be fabulous!

The Eight Limbs of Yoga {Ashtanga}

Compiled by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs of Yoga are established as a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the Yogi (one who practices Yoga) to enlightenment. While the physical part of yoga is certainly of significance, it is only one of the eight conventional limbs of Yoga practice, all of which have meditation of God as their rationale.
These are the eight limbs of the complete yoga system as found in the famous Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

  1. Yama – Moral observances for interactions with others
  2. Niyama – Moral observances for interactions with yourself
  3. Asana – Postures
  4. Pranayama – Breathing
  5. Pratyahara – Sensory inhibition
  6. Dharana – Focus
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Blissful absorption of one’s individual consciousness in the essence of God.