A lot of the time when people hear “yoga” they think of the physical practice of moving the body through various postures, or sitting still in meditation. However, yoga is a lot more than moving the body and stilling the mind. Yoga is comprised of 8 limbs, named Ashtanga yoga (not to be confused with Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga yoga that is a style and practice of yoga ). In his yoga sutra’s Pantanjali described the 8 limbs of yoga as a way of incorporating and following a yogic lifestyle. The limbs are practical guidelines to creating balance within the mind, body and spirit and when followed will enable an individual to reach samadhi / enlightment. The 8 limbs of yoga are as follows: yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, prathayara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. In this 3- part series I will detail the 8 limbs of yoga and how you can merge them into your Little Lotus yogi’s life, and your families.
YAMA = Personal Restraints
Patanjali’s first limb of yoga, Yama, details one’s ethical and moral standards and with how an individual conducts themselves within society. There are 5 Yama’s as follows:
1. Ahimsa (Non-Violence) Little Lotus yogis are encouraged to practice sharing and caring with their peers. Compassion is also encouraged through communication- verbal and non-verbal. Encourage your child to use positive communication instead of hitting, yelling, name calling, etc. Take time to be compassionate and encourage your heart to shine through to others! Ahimsa encompasses non-violence to the self, others, animals and our environment. This may be incorporated into one’s diet by encouraging a vegetarian diet. Ahimsa may also apply to the physical practice of yoga as one respects their body and mind while on the mat. Yoga is not a competition or pushing yourself to do something that you may think you should be able to do or want to do!
2. Satya (Truthfulness) Little Lotus yogi’s are encouraged to stay truthful to themselves and others. This may include speaking the truth, and ensuring actions are truthful to meet their goals as an individual and within their family unit. Encourage your child to be truthful, to do what feels best for them and to always speak the truth. Sat= truth ya= continuation Therefore satya is the continuation of truth. It is important that we teach our leaders of tomorrow that to lie causes yourself pain as well as others. Not telling and /or living the truth uses a lot of energy and can become draining for our mind, body and spirit.
3. Asteya (Non-Stealing) Little Lotus yogi’s are encouraged to be creative and develop their own ideas, while not stealing ideas from others and crediting peers for their own ideas. Non-stealing of material things is also emphasized, as well as stealing time from their selves and doing something that is positive towards their development as an individual. Encourage your child to spend their time participating in activities and events that allow their mind, body and spirit to soar. By spending time on activities they may not enjoy (i.e.: music lessons) we are stealing from their creativity time and personal development
4. Bramacharya (Moderation) Little Lotus yogis are encouraged to adopt a sense of moderation within their lifestyle. This may be in the form of moderation of unhealthy food choices, riding in a motor vehicle when walking or cycling is available or any other activities or behaviors that they may display. With moderation a sense of internal balance and contentment may begin to develop within the self and the struggle of peer pressure and keeping up with others will begin to decrease over time. The next time your child would like a third cookie or another ice cream treat encourage them to make a healthy choice such as an apple or banana. Is your child having difficulty grasping that they do not need another new bathing suit, or lululemon sweater? Create an environment that welcomes and nurtures your child as they develop a sense of moderation and begin to understand the differences between moderation and over-indulgence within their life. When bramacharya is practiced it can lead the person in practice closer to God / Universal Awareness.
5. Aparigraha (Non- Attachment) Little Lotus yogi’s are encouraged to embrace and be thankful for what they have in their lives, but to also understand that these objects and materials do not make who we are as an individual. It is also important that one practices non-attachment to their on and off mat practice. What you may be able to do one day on the mat we may not the next. Practice being aware of each moment and the beauty of your surroundings. Focus on what is happening within the body instead of creating attachments to material objects, finances and things.
Stay tuned for Part #2 & #3!