Although the average yoga practitioner does not necessarily know about the 8 Limbs of Yoga, most teachers have been exposed to it. However, due to the spread of Hatha Yoga (Asana Yoga), very few teachers or students have a chance to follow the order recommended by the Sutras for their practice which has led to trouble for many practitioners and teachers.
As explained in the Yoga Journal magazine this month, the practice of asanas (posture yoga) is only the third limb. And there is a good reason for this, even though most yogis are led straight into asanas.
The first Limb is Yamas which includes 2 important principles:
* Ahimsa (do no harm to yourself or others)
* Non-grasping (no attachment to outcomes)
Without learning how to not be attached to outcomes, it is difficult to be kind to ourselves and sometimes to others. And it is also difficult to practice yoga without straining because it is common to buy into the “No Strain, No Gain”.
The second Limb is Niyamas which also includes two important principles:
* Santosha (learn to be happy with what is)
* Tapas (learn to be disciplined especially about the principles taught in the first two limbs)
What’s the connection with injuries? You cannot enjoy your best performance and optimal safety without integrating the principles of these two first limbs because they teach you:
1) To not strain (which places you in stress mode),
2) To not be attached to the perfection of the pose shape (which is a guide rather than a goal),
3) To embrace where you are at in the now instead of always wanting something else belonging to the future.
So whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, keep reviewing and practicing the principles of the two first limbs if you want to have an efficient and safe life-long practice!:)
To assist you with this task, you can learn how to activate your whole body-intelligence. It helps you prevent harmful habits or free yourself from habits you already have. Check how you can work with me either privately or in a group, locally or online by going to the Work with Cecile Tab at the top of the blog home page.
PS: For Boston locals, check last June event Saturday, June 30 in the artist section of Boston (SOWA)