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Living and Breathing Yoga

Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga start with Ahimsa - compassion, or put another way, non-violence. 
1. Yama - Points for inner contemplation: Ahimsa - non -violence to oneself and others in thought, word and deed.
Satya - truth
Asteya - non stealing
Brahmacharya - conservation of vital energy, increasing willpower and focus.
Aparigraha - non-possessiveness, non-grasping, non-greed. Letting go of the need to acquire things for the sake of hoarding, allowing space in relationships, letting go of past experiences. Living in the moment. 
2. Niyama - Outward observances - Saucha - cleanliness 
Santosa - contentment, satisfaction, gratitude
Tapas - heat, authentic spiritual practice
Swadhyaya - study of the inner Self, study of spiritual scriptures
Iswara pranidhana - surrender to a higher source, to the source of creation
3. Asana - yoga postures
4. Pranayama - control of the vital life energy in the form of breathing techniques
5. Pratyahara - withdraw of the senses in towards the Sel…
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Living in Harmony: Yama - The First Limb of Yoga

Yamas - Our Understanding of the Universal Laws of Nature and Our Relationship with Ourselves and Our Environment.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras describe the Eight Limbs of Yoga. It is important to note that these eight limbs are interrelated and can therefore only be experienced together as a whole, rather than as consecutive steps. The first limb of Yoga, Yamas, is about respecting and learning from the laws of nature. We regain our sense of union through postures, pranayama (breathing), and meditation, rather than feeling separate from nature.
The motivation is to decrease dukha, or suffering, to increase sukha, or happiness, and to lead towards sat-chit-ananda, theunitive yogic state oftruth, consciousness and bliss. Even if we can only experience a glimpse of this in fleeting moments during meditation we are at the very least improving our well being and potentially feeling connected and inspired in the way that we need it most. When practiced with care, respect, and in the spirit o…

Yoga Harmony

A nourishing yoga practice is a balanced one.  Yoga is the binding of the opposites to create harmony. Yoga is a tool for observation of what is happening in the present moment. Does our practice make us feel over energized, overly relaxed, or refreshed and at peace? Patanjali's Yoga Sutras remind us of "sthiram sukham asanam", or "steady happy posture". The posture is firm but at the same time happy, or at ease and there is the perfect combination of effort and relaxation. The posture is not just the yoga posture - the posture is there all the time. 
Ask yourself the following before, during and after yoga, and then it will become second nature:
On what is my mind's awareness? 
Is my posture comfortable? 
Is my breathing smooth and easy? 
Is there a sense of "sthiram sukham asanam"?

The Sahasrara Chakra

At the Crown Chakra rests a thousand petaled Lotus flower representing the spirit of the infinite.

The Bija Mantras of the Chakras

ॐ - Om - Ajna
हं - Hang - Vishudhi
यं - Yang - Anahata
रं - Rang - Manipura
वं - Vang - Svadisthana
लं - Lang- Muladhara

The above are the bija mantras for the chakras from muladhara to ajna. As there is no English word for the bija mantras, and many Sanskrit words, letters and syllables, when translated from Sanskrit to English, there is more than one way of spelling a word. Therefore,  the bija mantras are sometimes spelled: LAM, VAM, RAM, YAM, HAM, OM. 

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

1. Universal laws of Nature (Yama) - non violence, truthfulness, integrity, divine conduct, and non attachment - “When we are established in non attachment, the nature & purpose of existence is understood."

2. How to Live in Harmony (Niyama) - simplicity, contentment, purification, refinement,  and surrender to the Divine - "From contentment, unsurpassed happiness is gained."

3. Postures (Asana) - "The physical postures should be steady and comfortable."

4. Breathing Exercises (Pranayama) - "Next come the breathing exercises, which increase the life energy."

5. Mastery of the Senses (Pratyahara) - "Once senses naturally withdraw inwards, mastery follows."

6. Concentration (Dharana) - "Dharana is when the attention is held focused on an object."

7. Meditation (Dhyana) - "Dhyana is when awareness flows evenly toward the point of attention." See more on the mind.

8. Enlightenment (Samadhi) - "Here, unbounded awaren…

The Meaning of "Hatha" Yoga

Hatha yoga refers to the physical practice of yoga, or "union" of the body, mind and Self and of the individual consciousness with that of the Universal, the source of Creation.  Hatha yoga consists of asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation. In the yogic text the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said that Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation are inextricably linked. One cannot have one without the other. Hatha Yoga is there to cleanse the body and improve the health , fitness and clarity of mind of the yoga practitioner so that meditation can occur spontaneously as a path to spiritual development. The Hatha Yoga postures are also practiced in a meditative state. So, rather than being  two separate steps in a process, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga are practiced together from the beginning, with a deepening sense of union as the practice develops.

The Meaning of the Word "Hatha"

Very briefly put, the component, "Ha", means su…