BEYOND ASANA: Embracing the 8 limbs of Yoga
By Ana Lucía Fariña
Many of us in the west have encounter the path of Yoga through the asana practice or perhaps through meditation or mindfulness. Yet asana is only one aspect in the eightfold path of Patanjali’s 8 limbs of Yoga, along with Yamas, Niyamas, Prānāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāranā, Dhyāna, and Samādhi. One cannot separate the asānas, from the rest. Wouldn’t this be like peeling just one layer of the onion? What about the rest?
The practice of asana offers numerous benefits for our physical, mental and emotional bodies. Yet, the intention is not merely focused on a physical aspect, but it intended in its core to lead us to “ cease the fluctuations of the mind”, to become still and calm, attaining this peaceful expansive state of union with all, that which is called “YOGA”. Patanjali’s eight-fold path offers us the guidelines for how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, and an invitation to explore the moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline, and reconnect with the web of life, through the path of Yoga- union with the divine.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb) serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they guide us to direct attention towards our self-inquiry and they help us reconnect with our divine nature. It is step to step intelligent process of discovery of one self, providing useful, practical and scientific tools to explore the body- mind- spirit realm.
We can for sure just do asānas but, what a shame! We are missing out on the exciting part! My experience leads me to believe that most traditional Eastern teachers incorporate all limbs into their teachings, called Sarvanga, meaning, they honor and respect their interconnection and importance of the complete path. Teaching only “asanas” limits the students’ possibility of experiencing the complete path that this ancient science has to offer and it’s called Anga Bangha- the Incomplete evolution, meaning just one limb- or practicing only things that are comfortable and pleasurable yet not transformative.
Acknowledging the sacredness of the path
Personally for me, Yoga is much more than a physical practice. It is an instrument for transcending our limitations and becoming one with it all—a path to purify our consciousness. At the end, all paths lead us towards the source, by taking the path of truth, honesty and right actions, service and respecting and honoring our ancestors and ancient sages.
I feel compelled and inspired to share this complete path of Yoga with everyone, therefore I am offering an 8 limbs of Yoga immersion, as a call to return to the roots and foundation of Yoga.
This immersion is an invitation for dedicated practitioners, who feel inspired and called to go deeper, to learn how to integrate, embrace and practice Yoga in much more profound and inclusive way. We will journey into an exploration of each of the 8 limbs, the philosophy, practice and wisdom teachings of these ancient and sacred path. Coming out of this immersion, you will have a much greater and clear understanding of the Path of Yoga, and how it experience Union in all aspects and realms of your daily life, either for your personal practice, for teaching, and /or sharing and being of service to others in this great journey of life.