The eight limbs of yoga by Patanjali outline the pathway to the enlightenment of spirit, emotion and physicality; to find a liberated state of existence. I say pathway because one must ascend the eight limbs to reach Samadhi- the connection with the Divine. After reading through some great articles, I’ve formed some questions on my own to reflect on in hopes of heightening my awareness of the yamas and niyamas. The yamas (self control) and the niyamas (positive duties or observances) can be easier than a single breath or harder than a 6 minute chaturanga. Enjoy!
Do my actions or words create more harm than good? When did my actions or words last cause harm? Do I practice ahimsa towards myself or others more frequently? What is out of balance when I commit harmful behaviors or thoughts?
Does my truth harm others? How does that affect my expression of truth? When was I last true and untrue to myself? How does owning my story contribute to truthfulness? What is out of balance when I choose to take part in mis-truths?
Does asteya include time, energy, opportunity, praise, ideas, and other non-material things? When did I last steal something non-material? When was the last time it happened to me and what was the emotional result? Is there such thing as justified stealing? What is out of balance when I crave things that don’t belong to me?
What are 5 ways in which I respect my own sexuality? What are 5 ways in which I respect my partner? Does my sexuality manifest from or within the other 4 yamas? Does my partner value the yamas and niyamas in the same way I do? What is out of balance when I commit to disrespectful or promiscuous behavior and thoughts?
How can I “pull my hand back” when necessary? How can I use the yamas to inspire aparigraha? What is out of balance when I commit to greedy behaviors or thoughts?
What are my daily internal and external purification rituals? Does one-internal or external-purification habit overrule the others? If I could cultivate a new internal or external purification ritual, what would it be? Where in my body or mind do I feel unclean? Do behaviors and thoughts related to the yamas contribute positively or negatively to my purity?
Do I realize my contentment is where I set it to be? What are my thoughts on gratitude? If I could cultivate a practice of realizing contentment, what would it be?
Why does my will power fail most often? When was the last time I willed myself into doing something good that I did not want to do? What was the outcome? what the a intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to doing something out of discipline and will? Am I working towards a goal when I do things out of will power?
What do I hope to personally achieve by adhering to svadhyaya? What benefit do I see to that practice? Does svadhyaya encompass body and mind? How can I best manage coming to terms with my weaknesses? What other aspect of the yamas or niyamas can I pair closely with svadhyaya?
Do I have clear picture, emotion or place to send the fruits of my practice? What is the best practice for facing my ego? Is everything I do for God, a god, the gods, a higher power? How do I define the higher power? What does it mean to me to be selfless?
Thanks, Syl Carson at BodhiYoga. I feel your perseverance and trust in my journey because you have given all you can to yoga.
Kiera Lucich is a neural integration specialist based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s the owner of Smart Move Wellness, a brain-based wellness company dedicated to educating and training people to heal chronic and trauma-associated pain. For more information visit smartmovewellness.com.