Why are there so many parts of yoga?

Yesterday, I was joined for yoga class by a man who has been practicing for 20 years ish. He was looking for new ways to develop his yoga practice, stating that he had never really studied yoga formally.

One topic that came up was what yoga is…. so I naturally started explaining the 8-limbed path of yoga (yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayamas, pratyaharas, dharanas, dhyanas, and of course samadhi).

Jokingly, the student stated that sitting in silence/ doing meditation or dhyana would be quite difficult for him, as he was used to doing things.

But of course! A lot of yoga theories claim that there is a need for progression through the limbs, starting at yamas, and ending in samadhi, or bliss.

However, this is not necessarily the case for all of us. In fact, yoga is adaptable to the needs of practitioners. You can figure out what works for you in each moment of your life. At the core, you just have to be aware of yourself in relation to yourself, and thereby, in relation to the world.

For one person, sitting in a cave, meditating all year long, brings a feeling of bliss. Another being may need to focus on just one yama (for example, satya, or truth) in order to feel at peace. Still another may find it easier to focus while performing actions through asana practice.

I say, to each his own!

This is why in a yoga class of a handful of people, teachers guide through intention setting based on one or more yama/ niyama or character, breathing techniques, poses, and meditations. This allows most of the limbs to be covered, giving any particular student an opportunity to grow in their own way.

If a student realizes his/ her proclivity towards a particular part of the tree of yoga, then more power to him/ her to cultivate that aspect in strength! Having the integrity to acknowledge what you as an individual need, and the courage to go out and get it, is the core of yogic philosophy: it shows that you have awareness of how you can best serve yourself, and in that way, best serve the world.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. felix
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 21:47:17

    interesting insight.


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