I am only 5 days away from completing my 40 days of yoga. I am not going to lie to you, I am 100% sure that if it wasn’t for my darling husband, I would of had to restart about 10 times. I am very excited about getting to the end of my 40 days but not for the reasons I had originally thought. I was going to take a week of from doing yoga, but I am unsure that I will do this. I am looking at embarking on a much longer journey to become even more connected to myself.
Over the past 40 days I have found that I am able to recover from things much quicker than previously. I was struggling with depression, self-doubt and an overly negative perspective on life. This has started to change as I have been moving through my days with a more open mind. I have learned to accept myself as I am and embrace every new experience. I am going to go on for a little bit here, so be warned.
When I started my 40 days of yoga, I had just gotten married, I was under a lot of pressure at work and my darling husband was away. I originally started my 40 days of yoga with the aim to lose weight, but due to a stressful placement and the loss of a job, this did not happen (I am sadly an emotional eater) but I have seen and felt some major changes in my teaching practices as well as the manner in which I live my life. I went from being frantic and emotional, to being calm and collected. This is of course using a combination of asanas and meditation. It takes a couple of minutes to really listen to your body, but as the days go on you can actually ground yourself and enter the state of self-awareness much quicker. Yoga has 8 limbs, as I am sure you are aware, it is very important to let your yoga practice encompass more than one of these limbs as this will help aid your development of self-awareness. The 8 limbs of yoga are as follows;
- Yama: Universal morality (there are 5 Yamas). The theory behind this is it is what not to do. So do not cause harm to others, do not lie or steal, do not be greedy. It is said that if you follow these rules then you will reduce your suffering while increasing the happiness of those around you.
- Ahimsa: Nonharming
- Satya: Honesty
- Asteya: Not Stealing
- Brahmacharya: Sensual moderation
- Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness
- Niyama: Personal morality (there are 5 Niyamas). The theory behind this is to support your personal, internal growth. It is allowing time to get to know yourself. It allows you to cleanse your mind, home and overall environment. To achieve this, you must surrender attachments to bad habits and negative personal practices.
- Saucha: Purity
- Santosha: Contentment
- Tapas: Self-discipline
- Svadhyaya: Self-study
- Ishvara pranidana: Surrender
- Asana: Physical practices. The asana side of yoga is a never ending journey. It is not about the destination, but the process. You can do this in a yoga class or by creating a home practice.
- Pranayama: Breathing practices. Take note of your breathing. This will help to improve your breathing habits. Inhale. Exhale. Note what point your breath feels restricted and when you get restless.
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of senses. This one is so hard to do! But I am slowly getting there. It is removing yourself from a craving, fear or desire. Acknowledge what it is that you are feeling in a nonjudgmental manner and note the feelings that accompany this urge. This self-knowledge results from gentle observation of thoughts and feelings. These can enable you to resist these distractions and allow you to focus on cultivating inner peace.
- Dharana: Concentration. It doesn’t matter if you are preparing for meditation or just wanting to develop a deeper level of concentration, it is a valuable tool. It can help you to give undivided attention to yourself, your work, your loved ones and any hobbies. This can also be seen as the practice of mindfulness. When you get distracted, just gently guide your thoughts back to a single point.
- Dhyana: Meditation. At first I recommend using a guided meditation if you haven’t tried meditation before. There are so many ways to meditate, it’s just sitting with your feelings and your thoughts.
- Samadhi: Enlightenment. I don’t even know how to start explaining this, as I haven’t achieved this as of yet. I am so excited for the day I can actually tell you about what this feeling is. But until then, I am just going to have to rely on what I have read about it. Samadhi is not the same for any two people. It is that overwhelming feeling that all is right in the world. It might not be a long experience, but when it is achieved you are encouraged to observe without grasping for it.
This is the basic outline as defined in The Little Book of Yoga. I learned a lot about this way of practicing as I moved through my 40 days and as I read more about the eight limbs of yoga.
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