Entwined; Eight Limbs and Us.

Blogging is good for those recluses who need interaction to retard intellectual apathy. Well, it’s good for me, anyway……..sometimes.

This is a thank you to a cyber soul named “David” whose heart is one of many hearts that make writing into the ether rewarding.  His latest thoughtful response to a bitchin’ rant instigated my response which was the absolute surety that Thoreau hid out at Walden to prevent himself from becoming an asshole as assholes are born of society and rarely alone. I’ll add this link as a footnote to that as it points to genetics and oxytocin as markers for social behavior.

And that inspires this take on the Yoga Sutra’s eight limbs which are known as the system of astanga yoga. Yoga practice which incorporates these limbs is sometimes referred to as kriya yoga.

The eight limbs go from the gross to the subtle from the surface to make a deeper pile; they interface like yarn on the knitting needle; knit one, pearl two, one step forward and backtrack, pick up and thread and go again to weave a cloak that covers all. The threads are only elements on their own and by relationship become whole: This is the action and interaction called kriya.

Yama is ethical observances. This first limb deals with relationship to others. Don’t be an asshole.  It begs the question: Am I an asshole?

Niyama is personal observances. This second limb deals with relationship to ourself. Respect yourself. It begs the question: Who am I and what am I doing?

 Asana is physical practice. It deals with relationship to others in the template of body organization and effort. Relationship through adversity becomes clear. It begs the question: Do I see this body as a cooperative or do I see starving slaves and gluttonous lords? What serves what and who serves who?

Pranayama is the control of breath. The fourth limb is relationship between our life force and THE force. It begs the question: am I part of this energy (as breath) or am I separate? Do I receive energy like oil on water or wind on water? Do I return it enlivened or exhausted?

Pratyahara, the fifth, is relationship of the senses through absorption. It begs the question: Am I absorbed or spaced out?

Dharana,the sixth, is the action of absorption with intention. It is concentration. It begs the question: Can I pay attention?  Can I direct my mind to this task or do I lack the fire, the desire, the discipline?

Dhyana, the seventh, is the relationship of the body to the senses, to the mind and to the present. We are committed, clear, calm, steady and strong. We are receivers. This is meditation.

Samadhi,the eighth limb, is the absorption of the self into the whole. There are no questions. Some call it bliss.



Filed under yoga

2 responses to “Entwined; Eight Limbs and Us.

  1. You cover a lot of ground. And you are doing something very important, imo. You are putting yoga into context. The context of the individual experience of life and the integration of that life in society with others. Your questions help deal with a key question – how does this play out in my everyday life?

    I told a class recently that I meant to teach them that yoga is relevant. And that came from something I was chewing on – namely, just exactly what am I teaching?

    Apathy retardant. That feels about right.

    • Thanks David. Today I’m feeling like blogging is less an apathy retardant than a call to attention. I had a social media lesson from a friend yesterday that set my teeth on edge as she explained the new paradigm of power which is called “friend”. Now I’m wrestling with the demon of illusion v. the necessity of engagement. And perhaps that pinkie ring wearing Patanjali will offer a clue.

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