Yoga, as stated previously, encompasses eight so called “limbs.” However, in my opinion, yoga itself is more of a recipe than a tree, because all its aspects work together to balance life. The ingredient list includes eight parts: the yamas and niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi (it’s ok…I can’t pronounce them all either). Sticking with the analogy, the yamas and the niyamas would be the so called “meat and potatoes” of Yoga while the others add the gravy among other factors that keep people coming back for more.
The yamas, has five parts: ahimsa, staya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha. All of which deal with the moral values of your life in the treatment of others and yourself. The first, ahimsa, loosely translates into non-harming. Acting upon this in daily life pertains to have compassion towards the world around you, as well as inward benevolence. For instance, recycling when capable or rather than looking in the mirror and zeroing in on “flaws” working to accept yourself for you. The next two, staya, truthfulness, and asteya, not stealing, play into each other. To follow these, one must do the obvious implications (abstaining from cheating, lying, etc.), but also, the sometimes unconsidered aspects, such as not stealing time from others or yourself or being truthful to your belief system regardless of temptations. Brahmacharya, is tricky in two ways: its pronunciation but also understanding. This happens because it is modernly considered to be moderation. Unfortunately, this is a relative term, so it varies for every person. Lastly, the ability to let go, or aparigraha. To complete this, you simply have to allow the universe to turn and for change to happen as it does and, rather than fighting it, accepting it.
Hopefully by now you’ve realized that these practices, and yoga in itself, aren’t a checklist to be marked off as complete. Nor are they meant to fly solo. Let’s be real, what’s a steak without seasoning or the potatoes on the side?