I was at a yoga workshop yesterday on pranayama, the work of controlling or restricting your breath, or life-force in yoga.
The beautiful teacher was talking about the breathe, the mechanics, the different types of breath work we can do in our practice and then she said something that struck me as profound.
I knew there were the 8 limbs of yoga, each one supporting one another. They are:
Yama – Rules of morality
Niyama – Personal observances
Asana – Physical practice of postures
Pranayama – Breath work
Pratyahara – Sense restriction
Dharana – One pointed focus
Dhyana – Meditation
Samadhi – Universal oneness
But then what she said was,
If you are not getting to Samadhi, a state of being so deep that it dissolves all lines of separation in this world and you are at one with the divine, then you need to meditate more.
If you are not getting into a meditative state where there are periods of stillness, nothingness of the mind, then you need to do more work on one-pointed focus, concentration, bringing your mind back to meditation and concentrating on that one thing, may it be mantra, a spot in the body, a sound etc.
If you are not able to concentrate then practice more sense restriction, practice ignoring sounds, make sure your eyes are closed, that you are warm and comfortable.
If you can’t do that then do more Pranayama, more breath work.
If that seems hard then do more Asana.
If that is difficult then you need to work on your lifestyle, the way you are being in the world. The Niyamas and Yamas.
They are not exactly linear – but if you are not where you want to be, if your meditation is less universal oneness and deep peace then you do more yoga. More of everything that encompasses yoga that I have mentioned here.
Do the work and reap the rewards.
It was suddenly so clear and bright for me, this path of yoga, why there are 8 limbs, why everything on that list supports the other.
As if stars had lit up to lead me.
Real understanding opening the doors towards the Universe.
I didn’t dissolve into the Universe, today, but my meditation was deeper. I felt different. It felt easier, lighter and I felt more inside my body than out of it.
I felt the real difference between doing something for the sake of doing it and doing something because you know why.