New Project, new way of thinking. Exploring the 8 Limbs of Yoga

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I have just started writing some educational articles about yoga for Anamaya’s website and I really think I am going to enjoy this project!  My first subject is Patanjali’s 8 limbed path of yoga, which is a structured breakdown of all of the practices of yoga that come together to create a well-rounded way of life for a yogi.  Today I wrote the introduction, and over the next few weeks I will be writing detailed articles on each path, breaking down the meaning behind the practice and using examples from my own life to demonstrate.

As I think about going into detail about each of the paths I really start to consider what it means to live a life of yoga.  For many people the physical practice of going to a yoga class and moving through asanas is what yoga is to them.  Before learning about this well-rounded way of life that is yoga, I was very much the same.  I went to a few classes here and there and always enjoyed the physical benefits, but also had an inkling that there was much more to this yoga business.

Slowly but surely, through my education at my yoga teacher trainings here at Anamaya, and through my own reading and study I have come to know yoga on a much deeper level.  I find that my opinions on things are shifting and I see the world in a different way.  I have begun to really study myself and have patience with my self while I sort out the inner-workings of my being.  I could go on for hours about the many things that are different for me now, but there is one thing that has stood out for me and I think about often.  It’s something that I kind of battle with myself over because being non-judgmental is a part of being a yogini, but let’s face it, I am nowhere near “enlightened” and I’m very much human!  What I have been thinking about is the moral duties we have as yoga teachers (if we do indeed have moral duties and to what extent).  The old adage says “do as I say and not as I do”, but in my opinion, that can only go so far when you have moral responsibilities as part of your job.

I have encountered many yoga teachers in my day, as well as being one myself and I often wonder if others think about these things in the same way.  I have witnessed regular yoga practitioners and teachers doing and saying things that are definitely not in alignment with the teachings of yoga, and I myself have also questioned my own behaviors.  Where do we draw the line on these ancient teachings?  How are they applicable in this day in age and in the western world?

Do we have a responsibility beyond our behaviour with our students during class?  If we meet a student by chance at a party, can they expect us to behave a certain way?  I believe that as a person, I hold myself to a higher standard now that I am teaching yoga, not just for my students but also for my own peace of mind.  Do others feel the same way?

Mandy Lawson
“Be where you are: Otherwise you might miss your life” Buddha

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