Summer is coming and this weekend, what is now fondly known as ‘the early May bank holiday’ was once better known as the festival of Beltane. We are half way between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice and entering the lightest quarter of the year (here in the Northern hemisphere).
What better time to renew our commitment to practicing yoga!
Most of us begin our yoga practice with an interest in āsana (pronounced ah-sana) – otherwise known as postures. Practicing āsana allows us to develop a better relationship with our body, to really feel our body and learn how to use it and move it wisely.
A well known series of āsana is the salutations to the sun – a flowing sequence designed to bring warmth and light to the whole body. There are actually many variations of this sequence – one to suit each and every body – and that is something we’ll be exploring in classes during this lightest quarter of the year.
For many of us this deepening relationship with our body begins an enquiry into other aspects of ourselves, like our breath, our thoughts, our feelings and our spirituality. Whether or not that’s what we intended, we find ourselves on the path of yoga and we might start to seek for a map of the territory.
The Eight Limbs model (or map) clearly presents yoga as a holistic practice, affecting every aspect of our lives, from the social to the spiritual via the body, breath and mind. We develop a relationship with our body through āsana, so we can find one particular āsana in which we can become still and work with our breath, senses and mind.
Although many view the Eight Limbs as being like the rungs of a ladder, beginning with Yama and progressing to Samādhi, I find it works well as a circle or cycle, and it doesn’t matter particularly where we begin.
Being in the Cycles
I wrote this post as part of a journey through the eight festivals of the Celtic calendar – Being in the Cycles – during which we will encounter each of the eight limbs of yoga – like a series of gates to pass through on our path.
So, here is a gate I found with built in yoga props for a lovely supported āsana!