In Yoga, awareness is both the method and the result. If you want to get somewhere, you need to know where you are going and where you are now. Even without knowing where you are going, if you know where you are NOW, then you can simply navigate each moment as it arises without having a solid destination. All the practices of yoga are practices to get us connected with what is happening now.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga (known as Ashtanga or Raja Yoga) are based on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These eight steps take us from an awareness of the gross (solid and tangible) to the most subtle of experiences. It starts with our behavior and interaction with the outer world, the Yamas and Niyamas, then we develop awareness of our bodies using Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breath work). The breath is the thread that connects the physical and the subtle. As we refine our attention, we work with Pratyahara (controlling the senses), Dharana (contemplation) and Dhyana (meditation).
Meditation is the calming and stilling of the mind. It doesn’t mean that thoughts cease, but the grasping, chasing and embellishing of them fades naturally. In those moments of being totally present, we can experience Samadhi, blissful surrender. This is a state of pure awareness… a place beyond words or description. It is actually freedom from what things aren’t. Awareness allows us to see through the illusions created by our own thoughts, perceptions and ego. This happens only to the degree we can be totally honest with ourselves about what we discover in the moment.
In Yoga, our mission is to eventually become free of even the structure we use to become aware. Yoga is a process of building up techniques and then dismantling them and letting them go so that we will be free of even the method and just be aware.
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