Yoga has a philosophy, if you imagine the philosophy as a binder – each of the limbs would be akin to a divider section within the binder. These “sections” are referred to as limbs; some are internal while others are external. So first – what the hell does that mean?
External yoga is actively practiced by a student of yoga; internal yoga results from a honest & dedicated practice. It is easy to bucket 4 limbs in each classification, one of which can be seen to bridge the gap between the external and the internal.
External yoga includes:
- Yamas – the moral code we have on how we treat the world
- Niyamas – the moral code we have for how we treat ourselves
- Asanas – they physical postures within the practice
- Pranayama – extension of breath through practice and how we connect to it
These are physically practiced by myself and any other student of yoga. These are all mentioned in previous blogs, feel free to peruse.
Internal yoga includes:
- Pratyahara – how we connect to our senses and the organs that are responsible for the senses.
- Dharana- is the act of concentrating
- Dhyana- meditation and being able to move beyond the mind and seeking to attempt to your higher Self. (You can think of this as the collective unconscious as discussed by psychologist Carl Jung)
- Samadhi – a very deep level of relaxation that leaves you united with that higher Self. This is not “easily” or often experienced, and is not the goal of every yoga practitioner.
Just thinking through these 8 limbs and listed them our as we did above, it seems fairly obvious to me that they cannot exist without each other. The external practices lead to the internal practices. The practice of pranayama, for example, teaches us to control our energy and our breath – leading to a control of our mind as it relates to concentration. If we do not have that connection to our breath, our bodies, our energy – how then would we practice ANY of the internal limbs? NAY! These internal practices result for the surrendering that Ashtanga inherently delivers to a student that stays with the practice.
The practice of the first 4 limbs will allow you to experience ease, control, relaxation and surrender. This affects the mind and body – leading to experiencing of peace & mental clarity.
Talking to the other students in my class, we all have experienced glimpses of clarity, but there are still ripples in our minds.