Yoga Philosophy

What is Reiki? How to become Reiki Certified with Vy Le – Wisdom 101 Interview

What is Reiki? How to become Reiki Certified with Vy Le – Wisdom 101 Interview 1280 800 Nate Guadagni

Vy Le is a medical intuitive who works with energy fields related to the physical, emotional, and psychological bodies, specific to the individual’s need for healing, and is a certified Reiki Master and Access Consciousness practitioner. She can help bring to light old, or even past life traumas or focus on relieving an immediate physical pain or ailment. She is the creator and owner of VYTL Living Center, a wellness center, whose mission is to promote life-balance through healing & personal growth. The center offers Reiki classes and sessions in addition to providing an array of programs and classes that foster mindfulness, creativity, and self-healing.

In this interview, you will find out:

– Vy’s discovery of her intuitive gifts

– What is Reiki?

– How can Reiki be used to help with healing?

– Resources and places to learn more about it.

– What is the Reiki Certification Process?

– Reiki Weekend Retreat

http://www.vytlhealthgroup.com/classes–events.html

Nate Guadagni is the founder of Bo Yoga®, a rapidly growing wellness system dedicated to making mindful movement accessible to all people.

Website: www.boyoga.com

Wisdom 101 : Practical, Inspirational Interviews Wisdom 101 distills the wisdom from health and wellness leaders, environmentalists, authors, speakers and teachers. Become energized, inspired, and more mindful with each episode.

Wisdom 101 : Episode #10

Four arms linked

The Three Keys to Healthy Relationships

The Three Keys to Healthy Relationships 435 290 Nate Guadagni

There are three keys or rules that will help you find peace and joy within all relationships, including the most important relationship in your life, the one with yourself.

The first key is found in almost every religion and ethical tradition from the beginning of recorded history: the Golden Rule. Simply put, it states, “Treat others the way that you want to be treated.” This is a profound guideline and one that will never lose its value. Halil the Elder, who lived 100 years before Christ, once summarized the entire Torah with the similar phrase, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah. The rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Although this rule is self-explanatory and resonates with the deepest parts of our being, doesn’t it also leave something out? What if the way that we want to be treated is not the way that others want to be treated? What if a man opens a door for a feminist who takes offense at the offering, which to her implies that women are weak and need men to help them? What about the imperialist who invades native cultures and insists that they must be saved from their barbaric ways with modern lifestyles and luxuries? Ignorance can be well intentioned, yet tremendously damaging.

Let us consider the second key, known as the Platinum Rule: “Treat others as they want to be treated.” This requires a new level of communication, empathy, and understanding. It requires not only the intention to treat others well, but also the willingness to take the time to learn how people want to be treated. Many charities waste enormous sums of money and effort giving to communities without spending the time to understand what that community really needs. Disaster reliefs are often flooded with well-intentioned cans of food and bottles of water, yet what actually may be needed are blankets and electricity. Applying the Platinum Rule to our relationships will bring immediate improvement because the only way to know what another person wants is to let go of our own assumptions and projections and to ask.

There is one final key, and it is perhaps the least understood and practiced. The Diamond Rule states: “Treat yourself the way that you want to be treated.” This is a new paradigm of thought. The application of this rule could lead to a mass shift in the perspective of millions of people who are stuck in feelings of victimhood and blame. To take responsibility for our own lives and to take the initiative to treat ourselves as we want to be treated by others is probably not a way of life that you have seen demonstrated by your community.

This idea alone is enough to alarm and distress people who misunderstand it to mean that we should not cooperate or consider each other but just take what we want for ourselves. What it really means is that nobody else knows exactly what you want, and even if they do know, it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to do it for you or to give it to you. Each of us is the creator of our own lives, the thinker of our own thoughts, and the actor of our own actions.

How can we practice this rule and apply it to our lives? If you are wanting others to love you, see that you love yourself first. If you want others to pay attention to you, check if you really give genuine attention to yourself. If you want to have more respect from others, see if you really respect yourself.

With simple introspection, it becomes clear that everything we think we want from others, whether it is love, attention, respect, or trust, is actually a deficit in ourselves that we hope others can fulfill. To the exact amount that we don’t give ourselves enough attention, we will want it from others. To the same degree that we don’t love or respect ourselves, we will crave it from others.

The problem is that the only person who can give us unconditional and unlimited love, respect and attention is ourself. Everyone else will disappoint us, no matter how much we want them to, or even how much they want to satisfy our deep needs, they cannot do it alone. The one person that you really want love and respect from is yourself — your true self. We can see ourselves with the same unconditional love as a parent looking at a newborn child — filled with love and admiration, recognizing our own infinite value, and marveling at the mystery of life. One of life’s greatest realizations is to see ourselves through the eyes of our true self. At this moment there is a life-changing shift in identity described eloquently by George MacDonald: “You do not have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

The main reason that the Golden Rule isn’t working well is that people treat themselves with criticism, abuse and disrespect, and so they are incapable of giving much else to others. As author and civil rights leader Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The truth is that “You do unto others as you do unto yourself,” for better or for worse. As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” When we learn to treat ourselves better, we will finally know how to treat others better as well.

All three Rules are important to enjoy balanced and healthy relationships.  Of the three, the Diamond Rule is the one that is most within our sphere of personal influence.  Spending more time developing this constant relationship with ourselves will build a foundation for all other interactions. From a platform of genuine self-confidence and emotional stability, it will be easier to treat others the way we have been treating ourselves — with love, respect, and dignity.

Stick to it – Eugene Magazine Article

Stick to it – Eugene Magazine Article 1256 1631 Nate Guadagni

STICK TO IT

BO STAFFS IN YOGA ASSIST WITH BALANCE AND MOTION

By Mecca Ray-Rouse | Published October 2016

Photo Credit : Stephanie Kuecker / Vivien Chao

Read Original Article here

“Let the bo staff do the work,” Nate Guadagni, founder of Bo Yoga in Eugene, says to his students Thursday morning.

Framed in white Christmas lights, a mirrored wall reflects Guadagni’s students—each with a flexible and padded bo staff.

Guadagni has been teaching yoga since he was 19. In 2013, he began experimenting with bo staffs that he purchased for martial arts practice. He soon realized that this type of staff could be used in yoga. Wrapped in new material, the ancient weapon became a tool for restoring and strengthening the body.

“The modern material adds the flexibility and the padding, which makes it way more useful than a stick,” Guadagni says.

In 2015, he left the company he was working for in order to develop Bo Yoga. He began classes in October 2015.

“People just started responding,” Guadagni says. “It was an immediate, positive response.”

Guadagni’s three pillars for Bo Yoga are energy, balance, and mindfulness. At the beginning of the class his students focus on loosening up the upper body, where people tend to hold most of their stress. Working from head to toe, Guadagni leads his classes through a series of stretches, core work, and balance poses, ending with meditation. During a pose, students use the bo staff for balance or support, or as a way to deepen the stretch by allowing the muscle to relax.

With the bo staff, yoga is more accessible to people who need extra support for safety.

“I want Bo Yoga to feel inviting,” Guadagni says. Yoga can be too demanding, challenging, or intimidating for some people. Guadagni’s class is designed to be fun, uncompetitive, and very beneficial.

“You’re going to get a mixture of the challenge that the body needs to build strength, balance, and flexibility, with the support that’s needed to make sure you’re doing it safely, effectively, and easily,” Guadagni says.

Students attend Guadagni’s class because of their interest in physical and emotional well-being. Though Bo Yoga primarily offers a physical benefit, it also offers an emotional benefit through regulated breathing.

“This has been proven to reduce anxiety, depression, digestion problems, sleeping patterns, etc.” Guadagni says. “The meditation we do at the end can help with stress, mental issues, [and] negative thoughts.”

Many of Guadagni’s students have experienced these benefits since beginning Bo Yoga. A few of his students who came to his first class in October have become regulars.

“I get things here I don’t get at other places,” Hazel Jones says. She had never taken a yoga class before starting Bo Yoga in October. She likes that Bo Yoga focuses on breathing, balance, and being aware of outside factors.

With regard to the bo staff, student Le Shufflebarger says: “It makes you feel really safe. I’m glad [Nate] started this.”

Guadagni also offers an instructor course for those wanting to obtain a license to teach Bo Yoga. He hopes the Bo Yoga staff will become a staple in every yoga class. In the meantime, Guadagni will keep developing his practice and expanding the bo’s use.

“I’m excited to see where it ends up,” says Guadagni.

Guadagni currently teaches Bo Yoga at Eugene Yoga.

3575 Donald St.

458/205-8378

245 E Broadway

541/520-8771

eugeneyoga.us

boyoga.com

info@boyoga.com

How to turn New Year’s Resolutions into a lifestyle.

How to turn New Year’s Resolutions into a lifestyle. 500 333 Nate Guadagni

Have you wondered what the most popular resolutions are for 2017?

Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2017

Source: Statistic Brain / Survey : 1,129 paticipants
1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
2. Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
3. Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
4. Quit Smoking 7.1%
5. Do more exciting things 6.3%
6. Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
7. Work out more often 5.5%
8. Learn something new on my own 5.3%
9. Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
10. Find the love of my life 4.3
11. Find a better job 4.1%
Other 13.8%

How many people do you think successfully achieve their NYR’s by the end of the year?

The statistics are shocking; only 16.3% of people over 50 achieve their New Year’s resolution each year.

Yet, before you throw your New Year’s resolutions out as a lost cause, consider this; people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions

So what makes it so hard to change?  It seems that setting a resolution once at the beginning of the year and expecting it to stick through the rest, is simply not a good strategy.

Rather than a one-time resolution, to create lasting change, we need a revolving system, one that we return to frequently to set, re-set and schedule our goals.

That is why I created the WHEEL template (Weekly Habit Exchange Exercise List) and use it myself to keep creating a Lifestyle Revolution, not just a New Year Resolution.

A Lifestyle Revolution is a constant process of choosing what kind of life is desired each week.

 

Here is a template hat you can use to create your own Lifestyle Revolution.

Weekly Habit Exchange Exercise List Example

DOWNLOAD BLANK TEMPLATE HERE

How to use the WHEEL Template:

  1. Fill out the 3 ESSENTIAL AREAS of your life that you want to create changes in this week. (Example : 1. Health 2. Finances 3. Relationships)
  2. Write down 3 things in the (+) column for each Essential Area that you want to ADD to your week (actions, decisions, etc)
  3. Write down 3 things in the (-) column for each Essential Area that you want to REMOVE or REDUCE from your week.
  4. Fill out the dates for the Month and the Days of this week.
  5. Schedule the things that are actionable into your weekly calendar.   (If things aren’t actionable like “less complaining” simply set an intention for a situation where this action might come up and choose to complain less.)
  6. Choose an Affirmation that you will repeat to yourself each day.

Affirmations are like seeds, they are small, but if you nourish them, they can grow powerful and fruitful.

Aim to repeat your affirmation 1,000 or more times per day.  The more you experience joy and excitement as you connect to your chosen reality, the faster it will come to be.

Please enjoy and share with someone you love.

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

50,000 Thoughts Per Day

50,000 Thoughts Per Day 1000 562 Nate Guadagni

Some say, “you are what you eat.” and others say “the shoes make the man.”

Although there may be some truth in these statements, upon deeper reflection I would say “you are what you think,” – or as Rene’ would say : “I think, therefore I am.”

The National Science Foundation reports that we have between 30,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day, about twenty million thoughts per year. As shockingly high as this may seem, it’s not surprising given the fact that our minds almost never stop thinking. Even more amazingly, we repeat 95 percent of the same thoughts we had the day before!

If our thoughts are practically the same day to day, it is likely that our attitude on most subjects has become ingrained, etched into the wiring of our brains. So, attitude is the way we typically think about what we encounter in the world: People with negative attitudes have minds dominated by negative thoughts, and people with positive attitudes have minds dominated by positive thoughts.

An attitude is nothing more than an evaluation of a subject or object that ranges from extremely negative to extremely positive. Although our attitude is divided into negative and positive polarities, the world actually isn’t divided into negative and positive things. When it rains, the sunglass salesman is unhappy while the raincoat saleswoman is overjoyed. When it snows, the skier is happy and the trucker is annoyed. Circumstances do not determine our negative or positive attitude because there are no inherently negative or positive circumstances.

So, who then decides your attitude? You do! We perceive things as negative or positive only because of our own interpretation, and realizing this is a huge step toward being able to create a more beneficial attitude. Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport describes attitude as “the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology.” Learning to create a new habit — the habit of positive attitude — is critical to changing ourselves for a better life.

Your thoughts are mainly structured in words that comprise your inner voice and self-talk. It’s the voice that is reading this book to you in your head right now. It’s also the voice that may pipe up right before you have a speech to say either “you can do this, and it will be fun” or “you’re going to mess this up, and everyone will think you’re an idiot.” This is the voice that is talking to you non-stop, 50,000 thoughts a day, 20 million times per year, with almost nothing new to say. If you want to develop the resilient, can-do attitude you need to succeed, you need to train this inner voice to support you unconditionally.

Marci Shimoff, bestselling author of Happy for No Reason, says, “Research shows 80 percent of our thoughts are weighted toward the negative.” This means that if we have 50,000 thoughts a day, 40,000 are leaning negative. It may not seem like negative thoughts can do any real harm since they are just thoughts, but this is not the case. They have serious impact on our physical and mental health. Researchers have linked negative attitudes to addictions, psychosomatic disorders, anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental and physical problems.

Shimoff states that a positive attitude “is a specific, measurable physiological state characterized by distinct brain activity, heart rhythms, and body chemistry. People who are happy for no reason tend to have greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex, orderly heart wave patterns, and specific neurotransmitters associated with well-being such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.” The Mayo Clinic adds that “positive thinking can result in longer life, elevated moods, lowered stress, a boosted immune system, a stronger sense of wellbeing, and better coping skills during stressful events.”

The Mayo Clinic categorizes negative thinking in four categories: filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing, and polarizing. Understanding these types of negative thinking can help you recognize, and possibly change, how they play out in any negative attitudes that are affecting your life. Here is an explanation of each one:

Filtering means that you filter out the positive parts of a situation and focus only on the negative parts. For instance, after working on a long project, you might reject all of the compliments that you received and only remember the criticism.

Personalizing is the tendency to automatically blame yourself when something bad happens. For example, if an evening with friends is cancelled, you might assume that it’s because nobody wants to be around you.

Catastrophizing is expecting the worst possible outcome to any situation. For example, if your spouse doesn’t come home on time, you might think that he or she is cheating on you or has crashed the car.

Polarizing is a type of black and white thinking that equates anything less than perfection with failure. For instance, if you were to say something awkward at a party, you might feel the whole night is ruined.

Do you recognize any of these mental habits in your own attitudes? More than likely, if you are honest with yourself, you will recognize that you have fallen into these psychological traps at some time or another, if not often. Don’t feel bad about that; every person on the planet, me included, has at one time or another. You might even call these tendencies “human nature.” The important thing is to be able to see yourself clearly enough to realize when you are using them. Then, you will have taken the first major leap toward changing them.

The good news is that it’s just as easy to think positively as it is to think negatively. Look back at the four categories to negative thinking, and simply reverse them to apply them to positive thinking. Instead of filtering for the negative parts of a situation, try to sift through and highlight the positive parts of it. While everyone is griping about the bad acting in the movie, you can point out something that you appreciated, such as the great music or the beautiful cinematography. Instead of personalizing a situation and blaming yourself, de-personalize the situation and let go of it: “They didn’t cancel the dinner because I was going. I’m sure something else must have come up.” Instead of catastrophizing things, zoom back and put them in a larger perspective. “I may have lost a client, but I haven’t lost my job.” And instead of polarizing things into good and bad categories, see things in shades of grey. “I didn’t win the game, but there are lots of things that I learned, and I had some fun, too.”

People often reject positive thinking as unrealistic or as a way of living in denial, yet it’s important to remember that nothing is inherently good or bad. It’s only good or bad depending on the investment and relationship to the people involved. Reframing things from negatives to positives also doesn’t require any bending of the truth; it is just as accurate to point out a positive feature as a negative one. The main difference between negative and positive thinking is the effect they have on our attitude, our energy levels, and eventually our health.

The most powerful way to improve your attitude is to practice appreciation. Appreciation shines light on any subject to reveal hidden positives, and it instantly begins to improve your

mood and puts things into perspective. And best of all, appreciation costs nothing and requires virtually no effort to implement. Nothing in your life needs to change for you to change how much you appreciate the things that are already in your life.

This ability to choose our attitude is the essence of Bo Yoga Philosophy. Here is a picture that I have framed in my room to remind me to choose a positive attitude no matter what happens to me.

Philosophy of a Bo Yoga Practitioner

Every irritation: a lesson in patience

Every setback: a lesson in persistence

Every fear: a lesson in courage

Every hatred: a lesson in love

Every judgment: a lesson in acceptance

Every failure: a lesson in excellence

Every injury: a lesson in awareness

Every loss: a lesson in self-reliance

Every insult: a lesson in confidence

Every pain: a lesson in pleasure

Every sickness: a lesson in health

Every death: a lesson in life

Every person: a lesson in self

For your own PDF download to print, save or share, click here: Philosophy of a Bo Yoga Practitioner

8 Limbs of Yoga Poster Infographic Yoga Sutras Patanjali

The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Poster Infographic

The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Poster Infographic 4250 5500 Nate Guadagni
8 Limbs of Yoga Poster Infographic Yoga Sutras Patanjali

8 Limbs of Yoga Poster Infographic from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Download the 8 Limbs of Yoga Poster: Click Here

It may have happened to you in your very first yoga class. Maybe it was in your tenth or twentieth.  Or perhaps it will occur in your next class.

A momentary withdrawal of your senses, a complete release of distraction and sudden perfect focus as you settle into Warrior II.  A feeling of power and confidence burning within your solar plexus as you stand tall and stable in tree pose for the first time.  Perhaps it happened with a deep and pure breath of surrender and the feeling of being embraced by a greater Lifeforce as you rested in Savasana.

Wherever you find yourself in your yoga journey, there is a good chance that you have felt this exact moment; when you realize that there is more to yoga than simple exercise.

You may now start to hear words like Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), Tapas (burning/discipline) or Dyana (meditation) with more interest and familiarity as they now relate to your own experience.

Whether you know it or not, you have experienced a branch of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  This ancient text clarifies the purpose, the practice and the potential of yoga beginning with the classic definition of yoga: Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ” (Yoga is the cessation of mental fluctuations.)

How to get from tree pose to inner peace is precisely the purpose of the 8 Limbs of Yoga; to provide context and guidance to those seeking self awareness and a more meaningful practice.

Many see the progress through the eight limbs in a linear, hierarchical path, such as climbing rungs on a ladder or the growth of a tree; from root to fruit.  However, any and all changes that one experiences in yoga all occur in the same place; within one’s mind and body.  Rather than seeing the Eight Limbs of Yoga as an upward or outward journey, perhaps an image of inward transformation would better describe the journey.

One image that rings true to the dynamic nature of yoga is the Seed of Life, a classic symbol of “Sacred Geometry”. Each of eight overlapping circles combine to depict a multi-dimensional form which connects each circle to every other. Shapes appear and reappear in countless combinations allowing the abstract to merge with the literal, the linear to melt into the limitless.

From the surrounding borders of the Yamas (Community Ethics) to the integration of Samadhi (Enlightened Living) all of the parts become a complete whole.

While far from a perfect metaphor, the Seed of Life can still become a useful object of Dharana (Concentration) and Dyhana (Meditation) to allow all eight limbs to be observed at once in harmonious relationship and in context.

May this poster provide you with a simple reminder of this ancient, yet timeless wisdom, to serve as a mirror, a lens or a window through which you may look at as you please.

(To download poster:  Click Here )

The 8 Limbs of Yoga include:

  1. Yamas : Community Ethics
  2. Niyamas : Personal Observances
  3. Asana: Seat/ Postures
  4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises
  5. Pratyahara : Inner Awareness
  6. Dharana : Concentration
  7. Dyana : Meditation
  8. Samadhi : Enlightened living
  1. Yama

Community Ethics

Yama means restraint, moral discipline or moral vow and relates to how we treat others and how we should not treat others.  Our lives are microcosms within a larger community macrocosm and therefore inter-personal development depends completely on how beneficial or at least how benign we are to our community.

The Five Yamas are:

  1. Ahiṃsā: non-violence, non-harming
  2. Satya: non-lying, honesty
  3. Asteya: non-stealing.
  4. Brahmachārya: sexual control, continence
  5. Aparigraha: non-grasping.

The Yamas represent the borders and boundaries of our interactions with others. These are community agreements which like any agreement must be upheld to establish trust. When a majority of people live within the Yamas, there can be trust individually and collectively.
The red border which frames the Seed of Life represents the Yamas. When we can trust outselves with others and others can trust us, we can create happy, healthy and productive lives.

  1. Niyama

Personal Observances

The Niyamas are the internal commitments which guide one’s thoughts, words and actions and are the basis of personal integrity.  They set a high standard of self-respect, practical discipline and a humble mindset which applies to all aspects of one’s life.

The Five Niyamas are:

  1. Śauca: Cleanliness, purity
  2. Santoṣa: Contentment, acceptance
  3. Tapas: Self discipline, persistence
  4. Svādhyāya: Study of self, sacred texts
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: Surrender to divine, True Self

The Niyamas are represented with the orange petals. Once we have established community guidelines and respect for our relationships with others, we now establish personal values to live by. These values promote health, peace, wisdom and serenity.

  1. Āsana

Seat / Posture

Asana includes all of the postures, poses and physical practices that you typically see in a yoga class.  Asana literally means “seat” and it is the suffix of nearly every yoga pose that you will hear (Virabhadrasana: Warrior pose, Savasana: corpse pose, etc.)

Despite the endless cues, instructions, and variations that you may hear in a yoga class, the only instructions given for how to perform asana in the Yoga Sutras is: “sthira sukham asanam”, the posture should be steady and comfortable.

One further sutra states, “asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite.”  Asana was seen as a means to an end, not the end itself.

Asana is represented by the yellow petals in the Seed of Life. Asana is a way to practice and put into action the Yamas (Community Ethics) and Niyamas (Personal Observances) and as well as integrate Pranayama (Breathing) and Pratyahara (Inner Awareness).

  1. Prāṇāyāma

Breathing

Prāṇāyāma is made out of two Sanskrit words prāṇa (breath/energy) and ayāma (extending, stretching).

Once a yoga posture (asana) has been achieved with comfort and stability, the next limb of yoga, (prāṇāyāma) is the practice of consciously regulating the breath (inhalation, exhalation and pauses).  There are dozens of different Pranayama breathing exercises with different variations in the length of the inhale, exhale and the pause in between as well as the speed of the breath.  Although Patanjali recommends that Pranayama is practiced only after Asana is perfected, many teachers use it as a preparation to asana practice, as well as during and afterwards.

Pranayama is shown as the green petal, bright and full of energy, expanding from the asana practice and forming a bridge from the body to the mind.  The breath is one of the few vital functions that can be controlled consciously and therefore it naturally becomes a natural tool for Pratyahara (Inner Awareness).

  1. Pratyāhāra

Inner Awareness

Pratyāhāra is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- , “towards” and ahāra “bring near”.

Our five senses are mainly focuses outwards; our eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue are designed to mainly process external stimuli and evaluate our relationships with the outer world.  It is very easy to spend the majority of one’s day focusing on other people, our responsibilities in the world and significantly ignore our inner world and senses.  Not only are there few situations in a typical day that are conducive to pratyahara, most people have never been taught effective practices to be able to do so.  Yoga asana and pranayama are two powerful tools to develop and cultivate Pratyahara.

The light blue petal symbolizes Pratyahara, a bridge for the Asana practice to bring one’s consciousness from the external world to the inner.  Pratyahara is the final limb of Bahiranga (the visible practice of the first five limbs) and ushers in the transition to Antaranga (the invisible practice of the last three limbs) which develop the inner state.

  1. Dhāraṇā

Concentration

 Dharana means concentration, one-pointedness of mind. The root of the word is dhṛ, which has a meaning of “to hold, maintain, keep”.

Dharana can be practiced through many different means, from the repetition of a mantra, candle gazing, or unwavering contemplation on a mental subject.  Just as the light of the sun feels warm and comforting on one’s skin, when it is concentrated through a magnifying glass, it can cause a burn.  The mind is also very powerful when it is focused and to be able to direct one’s attention in a singular direction is an essential ability to achieve any goal.

Dharana is shown as the dark blue petal on the Flower of Life.

  1. Dhyāna

Meditation

Dhyana means “contemplation, reflection” and “meditation”

Dharana is like the journey and Dhyana the destination; one leads to the other.  As the mind is suspended in one-pointed focus long enough (Dharana) a meditative state occurs (Dhyana) with measurable changes in the brain waves, body physiology and subjective awareness.  In this altered state, there is deep peace, bliss and an ability to hold, examine or revolve ideas or concepts through the mind, looking at it from all sides as if it were an object in one’s hand.  This mental control allows the meditator to separate truth from falsehood, unravel the complexities of the ego and to discern one’s true nature.

Dyhana is shown as the purple petals of the inner circle of the Seed of Life.  Invisible and intangible, they mark a departure from the normal states of consciousness.  Just as the human eye and ear cannot perceive most of the frequencies and vibrations that exist in nature, the invisible and the unknowable is actually much larger in proportion than what can be seen and known.  Just as a sugar cube is dissolved into warm water, the rational mind is relinquished through Dyhana and there is an experience of “divine absorption” or Samadhi.

 

  1. Samādhi

Enlightened Living

Samadhi means “putting together, union, harmonious whole.”

Samadhi combines the words ‘sama’ meaning ‘same’ or ‘equal’, and ‘dhi’ meaning ‘to see’.

This means that there is no difference between the meditator and the subject of meditation.  There is a realization of the essential oneness, non-duality of reality and a total dissolution of the ego.

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one’s mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi.

This final stage of Samadhi is represented as the whole Flower of Life, representing an integration and nuturance of the entire 8 Limbs of Yoga. Just as a seed contains the promise of a flower, every human being has the potential of experiencing Samadhi. In the same way that a gardener can help a plant grow and bear fruit, so can a yoga teacher help her students reveal their potential.  Offering nourishment, support, pruning or space, a wise teacher knows that some students grow like a vine and others like a cactus, each with different needs and goals.

B.K.S. Iyengar, a teacher of teachers, says that “Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather, it allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.”

In the final verse of the Atma Satkam (Song of Enlightenment) Adi Shankara wrote this of Samadhi:

“Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,

I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:

Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound –

Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I’m found.”

 

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If you would like to read more about the 8 Limbs of Yoga or the Yoga Sutras from which it came, check out this list of resources:

Light on the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali – B.K.S. Iyengar

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Sri Swami Satchidananda

The Eight Limbs of Yoga: A Handbook for Living Yoga PhilosophyStuart Ray Sarbacker & Kevin Kimple

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