8 Limbs – The real Ashtanga !!!!


For so many living and following yoga in the west Ashtanga can mean so many things.  It can be a name of a restaurant, a line of clothing or beauty product, a record label or a yoga style made famous by Madonna.  Not sure if Madonna would want to steal Shri Patanjali’s thunder, but it is in fact our most famous sacred Father of Indian Classical Yoga who penned the list.  The eight-fold path or Ashtanga encompasses the entire evolutionary process for this spiritual path.  At the base of these guidelines are the Yama and Niyama, (listed in the two previous posts).  Yama and Niyama comprise the basic, timeless, universal code for behavior and some important guidelines for daily living.  The Yama and Niyama may lead one towards a balanced regimen for individual discipline.  The first six practices are merely preparatory for the first goal of spiritual quest- Meditation.  Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are purely mental and spiritual practices concerned with transformation.

Ashtanga, the eight-fold path, is a practical, workable system of self development that helps to control body and mind, and to live a balanced lifestyle: mentally, physically and emotionally.  Through understanding the intricate connection between body and mind, what causes distractions and obstacles in life, comes a willingness to use these guidelines to achieve the balance of body and mind, eventually leading to self-realization.  Success is measured  by practicing each step orderly and do know the Isha Kriya will allow you embody 4-8, when completing 108 mandalas.  We can use consciousness and awareness as terms in alignment with self-realization.  Without further ado here are the infamous 8:

1. Yamaethical practices

2. Niyamaconscious observances

3. Asanaphysical postures designed to release mental tensions and stresses lodged in the physical body

4. Pranayama the science of breath control to balance prana (life force) in the body, mind and emotions

5. Pratyharasensory practices, aims for the withdrawal of the mind from the senses.

6. Dharana concentration practices

7. Dhyanameditation

8. Samadhiliberation


172 responses »

  1. Yoga has always been a part of my practice, since it adds balance and mindfulness into my daily routine. Meditation has always been a difficult place for me to reach, especially if I have many things on my mind. I tend to reach my deepest experience when I am the most exhausted and “zen.” I have practiced the Isha Kriya 4 times outside of class time and I follow the video to keep track of time. I personally have experimented with trying this practice in the morning and in the evening and I found it easier to focus after my long day was complete. I am hoping to make time in the morning to try and find focus before a hectic day. I think it will bring more clarity and relaxation for my day. I have shared the Isha Kriya practice with my roommates and we have tried it once all together. This was success due to the fact that everyone was invested in the experience.

  2. This passage reminded me of a conversation my brother and I had a while ago. We were talking about these three possible journeys that a person can take once they arrive to a monastery. I believe it was his friend who had shared this information with him. The three choices that were given to him where: 1) a spiritual journey, 2) a wellness journey (in terms of diet) 3) both. I thought this was very interesting that these journeys can be separated. I always believed that one would feed the other. I still believe that both are important, the body and the mind.
    “I am not the body. I am not even this mind.” I have preformed the Isha Kriya every morning when I wake up around 7 am. I have been following along with the video. I tried to do it on my own but I noticed that I just grew impatient to finish the practice. I knew I was not ready to preform without the video. I have been noticing that as I follow the video I grow closer and closer to being okay with these words. I believe that I have been taking this practice more seriously through each sitting. Although, I always feel that sensation of rebirth after completion, there are times when I feel more tired than energized.

  3. I love that the Ashtanga is an uncomplicated process. It can be done by anyone seeking self-realization. Pranayama is interesting because it involves actual science, something that you can see physical results from as you control your breathing. These steps very much physical and mental. I am especially interested in Pratyhara, and the withdrawal of the mind from the senses. Often I am focused so much on the pain from my migraines that my mind becomes caught up in itself. It would be nice to feel free.
    The Isha Kriya has become a nightly practice for me. I like to put some lavender oil in my diffuser and turn off the lights. I find it helps to relax me if I listen to a quiet meditation/yoga soundtrack. I do not usually time the practice, as I find the alarm breaks my focus and inner peace. I am thinking of sharing the Isha Kriya with my mom when I visit home, because she loves yoga and often gets stressed. Maybe we can do it together at home. It’s nice to step out of my mind once a night with the meditation, and release anything I was carrying from the day.

  4. This is very useful when studying the Isha Kriya. The Ashtanga’s eight principles of important guidelines for living and meditating helps me realize what is most important in my journey. My spiritual growth has a lot to do with the eight principles. I say that because I have to measure how much success I have with all eight off the terms/guidelines. These eight terms focus on balancing the body and mind instead of the obstacles we face when meditating. These terms help with make us aware and more conscious with our selves. It is a mental and spiritual practice that is taking place when we study these terms. They help us come to self realization. It is also related to the Isha Kriya because during the Isha Kriya we are focusing on meditating and focusing our meditation on life’s energy.

    I practiced the Isha Kriya five times this week. I practiced it the night I went home on Monday after class all the way up until Friday. I know you are suppose to do it two times a day, but with my busy schedule I have tried to do it as much as possible or whenever I remember to. That means I did it once a day during the week. The Isha Kriya is very important and has helped me become more confident. I was not able to meditate out loud at first, but as I continued everyday, I have become very open when meditating. Also, when doing the Isha Kriya, I use the sheet that was given to me in class. It helps when I have it next to me because then I am able to follow the instructions if I forget something or do something wrong. I have not asked anyone to do the Isha Kriya with me, but my roommate was curious as to what I was meditation for so I explained it to her. I am planning on sending the video instructions to one of my friends at the SGI Buddha Center. My friend would benefit a lot from this practice.

    • Thanks for offering to share the IK with your roommate and friend. Thanks for investing time with writing your Yoga Journal for when we write things we engage in a process that lets us see our thoughts in another dimension that is useful for self growth. I’m excited to see how you continue to blossom this semester with yoga! OM

  5. I found Ashtanga very interesting. I think that being able to focus on ways to better yourself specifically is better than being general. Focusing on the eight-fold path will allow me to find specific things about me that will help me be better to myself and to the world. I will try to use the eight-fold path to help me with being more mindful of my body, and also listening to my body when it is telling me something is wrong. I have never been very good at that in the past.

    In my Isha Kriya practices I have noticed an improvement in my attention span while doing it. I am able to sit for longer without opening my eyes or thinking about anything accept for my breathing, the words I am repeating. I have been practicing in my room where I think it is the best for me. It is quiet, when my roommate is not there, and I am better able to focus on myself as opposed to what is going on around me. I have already done it 4 times since last class, all in my room but at different times. I find the doing the Isha Kriya before bed allows me to unwind and relax before I go to sleep. I have been saying the words out-loud, instead of singing them, and I also think that is helping me focus more on the meditation.

  6. Reading the Ashtanga’s I was reminded of the Bhuddist Middle Way, or 8 fold path to enlightenment. I thought perhaps the two were the same but on comparison it seems that the ashtanga’s are more specific to achieving a true meditative state.
    The 8-fold path to Enlightenment:
    Right understanding: Understanding that the Four Noble Truths are noble and true.
    Right thought: Determining and resolving to practice Buddhist faith.
    Right speech: Avoiding slander, gossip, lying, and all forms of untrue and abusive speech.
    Right conduct: Adhering to the idea of nonviolence (ahimsa), as well as refraining from any form of stealing or sexual impropriety.
    Right means of making a living: Not slaughtering animals or working at jobs that force you to violate others.
    Right mental attitude or effort: Avoiding negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger and jealousy.
    Right mindfulness: Having a clear sense of one’s mental state and bodily health and feelings.
    Right concentration: Using meditation to reach the highest level of enlightenment.
    I think it is important to remember that everything we do is a spiritual activity, and has an impact on our own well being, that things such as lying, or even having violent emotions is causing damage to our own selves more than to any situation or other being.
    Amelia Schaaf

  7. I have learned Yoga is really helping us change our lives for the better. It’s not just a stretching class we attend once a week. We need to be compassionate and honest and try to contribute to the world in a positive way. This not only helps ourselves but also everyone we interact with. The 8 Limbs seem to interlock with each other. For example, if we want to meditate we must be able to concentrate, control our breathing, and achieve sensory withdrawal by being able to shut the outside world out and focus on our minds. So you must really complete each limb before you can accomplish liberation or realization by seeing life and the world without distractions. This is not an easy task, but I hope i will be able to succeed.
    I have been practicing IK at least 4 times a week. I usually practice in my school apartment bedroom, but this weekend I was home and practiced in my bedroom at home too. Since most of my classes are in the evening I have been practicing during the day. I feel more relaxed after, but I must admit my back hurts a little. I have not been able to achieve a comfortable posture. I hope that I will be able to fix this soon. This past week I followed the video because it is too hard for me to keep track of time. I have thought about sharing with my girlfriend and will send her the video this week.

    Tyler L

    • A very good journal entry! Please use cushions to support your back, or maybe use a chair at home, bring a towel to class to make a support for your back. I hope you do get to share IK with your girlfriend and then you can share this together, thanks for sharing your own experiences, Namaste

  8. I personally have never heard of this Yoga practice before but I do find it interesting to see that this goes far beyond a practice and more into a way of life. Also, it being called the “8 limbs” showing there’s so much more to us as humans than what meets the eye or what we can physically touch. I feel us as westerners are very surface level thinking when it comes to strength and power whereas these 8 limbs unlock energy that’s so much more. I have practiced the Isha Kriya 3 times this past week. Unfortunately Thursday morning I had a panic attack which was the first time in years I had one and it truly upset me that I even let myself get to that point. I felt like I had lost control of myself and it was beyond frustrating. That night I decided to do the Isha Kriya in hopes to ease my mind and body of the incident and it definitely helped. I feel as though I don’t time myself too much I just focus on my state of being and once I feel relaxed and fluid I know the practice has done its job.

    • Remember the IK is an exact science so if one alters the amount of time you will lose the effects and benefits. Do find a practical way you can insure that you complete 4 sittings outside of class, this will keep your energy balanced during the week, build breathe control that is necessary for your yoga mat work and so much more. OM

  9. Ashtanga is what will lead us to self-realization. Through this eight-fold path, we must establish a profound connection between our bodies and our minds. By taking the needed steps to achieve such realization, we must follow the guidelines of the Ashtanga. As indicated in the post, the first six practices are “prepatory” while meditation, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are concerned with “transformation”. The Isha Kriya emcompasses some of these steps in the Ashtanga and the longer it is practiced, the better one’s breathing, the more withdrawn one is to their own senses, the more concentrated one feels, the better the meditation, and eventually, this person can be liberated.

    Personally, over the past week I have only done the Isha Kriya a total of two times. Both times I did it in the morning though the week before that I practiced at night. I find it to be a rather energizing practice to do in the morning since I have to wake up very early. However, I have an issue with going to bed early so I find myself going to bed very late and waking up early giving me less than optimal sleep. I could not bring myself to practice in the morning the next two times because I woke up very groggy and I wanted to fall back asleep. It’s not that I have issues going to sleep, but I have problems going to bed at a decent time. I hope to improve my practice this week and do it after my morning schedule.

  10. As I learn more about yoga and the practice of managing the body’s energy, I begin to draw more and more lines of similarity between this and kung-fu. Both practices involve physical postures with practiced breath control. It is through the controlled breath that the body’s energy is regulated and one can focus their energies in the right direction, instead of worrying about things that are unchanging. Instead of calling this energy pranayama, kung-fu calls this life force chi. It is by balancing one’s chi that one can meditate and balance the mind, freeing it of all superfluous pressures.

    I have been able to practice the Isha Kriya twice outside of class this week. Usually I do it after I have completed all of my tasks for the day. I do it along with the video when I can, but do it on my own for as long as it feels comfortable. I find that saying the words along in my head helps me focus my energy inward. Sometimes it is hard for me to get around to doing this because I am often tired and lazy once the day’s tasks are done. I can make sure to set a reminder so that I will do it more frequently.

  11. I have previously learned and heard about the eight-fold path however, I was never really sure of what exactly it entailed. From reading the post, I believe that each step in the eight-fold path is individuallay important for achieving a high awareness and connection between the body and mind. When we connect all of the steps and practice them in accordance with each other however, we will be able to achieve a strong awareness and connection between the body and the mind. I also look forward to thinking about the ideas of the eight-fold path during my yoga practice and using it to be more aware of how I can use the perspective I’ve gained through yoga and apply it to my every day life.

    Since last class, I have practiced the Isha Kryia three times in my dorm room, once at night and twice in the morning. I’ve noticed that with practice I’m becoming more used to the chanting which I previously felt a bit uncomfortable with. I have also found that I prefer to practice the Isha Kryia in the morning rather than at night becuase it makes me feel more focused and aware to start the beginning of my day. Focusing during the school day is something that I’ve always struggled with so I’m hoping to be able to practice the Isha Kryia or other meditations more often in the morning to help to be better able to focus during the day.

  12. I think taking up yoga as a practice and following the 8-fold path and the lifestyle that comes with it is a naturally healthy and beneficial way to take care of oneself. I promised myself this semester that I’d do a better job of taking care of myself mentally, physically and emotionally. And I feel like by practicing the isha kriya and being in yoga class, I am slowly achieving that goal.

    I like to practice the isha kriya in the mornings right after I wake up. I typically practice it in my room if my roommate isn’t there or in the common room of my apartment. I don’t do it every day, but I do manage to do it 3-4 times a week. It also helps me wake up in the morning because it is a task that has to be performed.

  13. As for me concentration and paying attention is something that I have to work at more than most people. Luckily, practices such as the Isha Kriya and remembering the infamous eight can help me attain greater awareness of the outside world as well as maintaining focus on the “inner body.” The eighth step of the eight fold path, “liberation,” is fascinating because the whole purpose of the practice, as for me, is to experience things as they are and hence become “liberated” from the mind’s unconsciousness.
    Additionally, “the middle way,” as being one of the goals of the eight fold path is essential for not getting “out of balance” in life. The Isha Kriya, which I’ve been briefly practicing subsequent to twenty minute meditation sessions is a great way to increase equanimity. If in a state of equanimity I can therefore be more at peace with myself due to not having extreme varying emotions. To attain what I want to attain ultimately comes down to discipline.
    Lastly, a hard part about practicing could be when I don’t feel as clear as I know I’m capable of feeling and accepting that. There have been numerous moments when I would feel very alive due to a yoga or meditation practice or merely just practicing mindfulness and have lost the feeling for whatever reason. Aside from certain mental, physical and emotional states being impermanent, the Isha Kriya, this yoga class and mindfulness-meditation are all continuing to positively contribute to my personal development.

  14. I have to say that as I learn more about yoga, I start to see that there is more to it than just lots of breathing and stretching. There is a lot of physical and mental disciplines that go into it that I did not know about.

    Whenever I do the Isha Kriya at home I usually do once in the evening in my room when I am done with school. I usually use my phone clock. I don’t use the video but I might start to see if it helps.

  15. I remember doing a lot of readings on Buddhism and Siddhartha Gautama, and the original Buddhism and buddha without his big tummy and goofy smile and it seems the ideal of that religion are very similar to the ideals and goals of yoga. When I think of yoga I generally think of India or Hinduism, and I now wonder if that is misinformation or incorrect. I do not know much about Hinduism’s goals or practices, but Yoga seems more in line with Buddhism. I wonder if practicing a combination of Buddhism and yoga is even more beneficial. I also wonder if Buddhists are aware of the similarities and perhaps there are already large communities that practice a combination.

    As far as the eight steps and achieving them through yoga I think they are interesting. I was talking to a friend of mine who does Kung Fu and he was saying how anything is Kung Fu. If someone runs everyday and is repetitive and consistent with it they are practicing Kung Fu. If someone Practices music everyday then that is their Kung Fu. I wonder if the same ideas can be applied to yoga in an abstract sense. For example yoga clears ones mind and lately I’ve been doing a lot of running without music listening to nature as a sound track. I find this rather calming and stress relieving for the most part. I am aware it is nowhere near as purely stress relieving as yoga, but I wonder if in a way it’s similar and gives me mental and spiritual health benefits and not just the physical.

    • I will share an assignment that will put yoga and other Eastern practice s into historical context, in a few weeks. For now know Buddhism began in India. Jogging has many physical benefits especially the cardiovascular health care, but yoga is an entirely different approach to health, and both should be done. One is aerobic and the other anaerobic. OM

  16. Being new to yoga, and this being my first class really exploring the dimensions of my body and mind, I find it interesting to learn more about these practices and how they correlate into our physical and everyday lives. When observing the 8 fold path, I can see how taking the initial steps such as “Nama” and “Niyama” are essential to the foundation of oneself. In addition, I can understand how these basic guidelines are crucial to learning and furthering my practice in Isha Kriya.

    In regards to my Isha Kriya, I have been practicing 4 times a week in my dorm room, generally before I go to sleep. While practicing, I follow the instructions of the video, and have been consciously more aware of my posture.

  17. For some reason, when I learned about the eight-fold path in high school, I never learned exactly what it actually entailed. It was taught to me in a historical context, learning about ancient India. However, I guess it’s better to learn about Ashtanga later rather than never. In the words of the eighth step, this entire process sounds incredibly liberating. I like that through learning about Isha Kriya, we are experiencing part of Ashtanga.

    It gives one a solid indicator of what the eight-fold path entails. Isha Kriya has already been quite a beneficial practice, so I can only imagine how revelatory Ashtanga as a whole would be, both mentally and physically. The concepts of Yama and Niyama are very appealing to me. Yoga so far has been about experiencing what is happening within. However, with Yama and Niyama, these ideas focus on what is occurring around us. By taking one’s experiences from both parts of life, one can begin to reach a true sense of understanding and peace.

  18. I think this is especially incredible information to be presented to me at this moment in time because I’ve been taking a class on Buddhism every Tuesday night. It is a gift to be able to put into practice the eight fold path; those who can I admire. I never made the connection that yoga would the IK would help so much. The concentration piece I find to be most difficult at times, and when I first started my yoga journey, doing the postures correctly was a challenge. But the rest seems to me something that most people can accomplish if they remain mindful of themselves and the world around them.
    I see how much this all ties into the IK now and how important it is that we do it so often. I had been getting it in every day, and recently I’ve let life take up some of the time and have only been able to practice it every other day. I’m working on getting back to my every day practice, though. I feel so energized and ready to take on my day. It clears my head of any nonsense that may have seeped in the past day and I feel wonderful.

  19. I find it amazing how there are actual separate categories for each part of your body mind that all work in a syncretic manor. I feel a great power while practicing the eight fold path as it is a direct connection to all our ancestors who created this powerful system, a system that will resonate within our societies for years to come. Healing minds and bringing us together as a whole energy.

    • Also to add on, I have been practicing the Isha kryia twice a day (morning and night) in my room. I try to set the mood with a candle and some soothing music. Each time I practice Im becoming stronger and more mindful and peaking my positivity, good energy to a level I’ve not felt before. I have actually for the first time this weekend while i was home showed my brother the practice. It was a different experience as it was with family. I was able to connect on a higher frequency with him just with one session. I enjoy to have another person to practice with so i can harmonize through verbal vibrations allowing me to connect deeper and slip into mindfulness with no distractions.

  20. I have never heard of the 8 fold path practice before. But i can only imagine how it can connect your mind and body. To properly align your bodies energies. I feel as this though this will aid in achieving a better understanding and connection with my surrounding and the outside world. I have planned on improving myself both inside and out as well as mentally.
    I am already near my physical goals as i am actively involved in the gym but i will continue to work on my diet and my mental space with practices such as isha kriya. Finding my own path through the eightfold mind set. The ashtanga is very interesting and some what useful. I have a hectic schedule and often find myself tense and stressed. But continuing these yoga practices is helping me relax and find a balance. Namaste

  21. It is good to read the Eight Limbs and know their meanings in regards to the Isha Kriya. The deeper understanding of the Isha Kriya leads to a better balance and practice. Knowing that with the practice of the Isha Kriya these Eight parts will unfold gives an eagerness to practice more.

    When doing the I often practice in my room, it has been a variation of where but I have practiced on the floor or on my bed. Eash practice I focus on my posture to better myself in order to not use the wall. The first week I have had to use the wall in my room. The first week I had only been doing it three times a week but know I have made time for four times a week.

    I often try to do it at night but next week I plan to start waking up earlier and practice the Isha Kriya earlier. I’ve noticed that it has made me conscious of several things in my life. For example, I have been trying to better my posture throughout my day especially while sitting. At first, I was following the video and the handout but now I have become comfortable on my own.

  22. I have been working twoards my goal of true mediation and I find that practicing the Isha Kriya every other day has been very beneficial. As I have mentioned in several other journal entries, I struggle with concentration and being easily distracted in my daily life. Through practicing the Isha Kriya other the past several weeks, I have noticed a positive change in my ability to resist distraction. I practice most often in my room. I used to spend a lot of time focusing on the noises or conversations occurring outside in the hallway but have now learned to ignore them. I am not hoping to work on ignoring closer distractions such as my cell phone or the sound of the refrigerator. In the coming weeks, I am hoping to improve my posture (I find the spinal twist very beneficial) since I am a musician and the way I stand when I play my instrument is vital to producing a good sound while avoiding injury.

  23. I have always heard of the eight fold path, and am now more interested after learning it can be traced back to a single individual Shri Patanjal. This makes the concept of a eight fold path less abstract as it has a physical manifest-er. While reading the listed 8 you get a broad idea for the steps, but nothing beyond a hint. This leaves me very curious about stage 5 Pratyhara. The idea on releasing ones self from the sensory system fascinates me and i have yet to see it be done.

    When i do my IK i typical do it every other day when i arrive home from school or work. The time is normally between 11pm-1am. I try to make it the last thing i do before i go to bed because i tend to notice a better night sleep when i have turned off all the electronics and have just given my head its own space for 15min before I lays down to rest. I have not been able to sit up without a wall yet, and i would definitely not invite someone to join me due to the distracting nature of others chanting and out of sync breathing.

  24. This class is making me realize that the well-being of the mind is just as important as the physical condition of the body. In the west, a healthy lifestyle tends to consist of a good workout routine and good eating habits and while that is important we tend to leave out the well-being of the mind. I think this yoga practice is important and should receive more recognition because it involves the health condition of the mind.

    So far, I have been practicing the Isha Kriya the required amount of times and I’ve been doing it in my room before going to bed. I have trouble falling asleep but I have noticed that the times I do the Isha Kriya I spend less time tossing and turning. I hope to increase the number of times I meditate as the semester goes on.

  25. [Cited works are numbered and in parentheses]

    After going over the reading I took some time to delve more into the meaning of the number 8, and it seems that it exists as a major cultural universal across several cultures. Some of the interesting connections I found are as follows: the Dharmacakra, a Buddhist symbol, has eight spokes and refers to the Eightfold Path (1); the birthday of the Buddha falls on the 8th day of the fourth month in the Chinese calendar (2); the Jewish rite known as “brit milah” is held on a baby boy’s 8th day of life (3); in Islam, there are eight gates in heaven (4); there are 8 Beatitudes in Christianity (5); 1 Peter 3:20 in the Bible states that there were 8 people in Noah’s Ark; 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture (6); in the Middle Ages, 8 was the number of “unmoving” stars in the sky and signified planetary energy in all of its perfection (7); and in the Wiccan religion, there are 8 festivals during the Wheel of The Year (source here would be myself).
    The number 8 to me appears significant because I grew up Catholic and the eighth was considered to be sacred because it signified the beginning of the new week; it was very much a spiritual day, though this wasn’t emphasized tremendously on a regular basis. For me, I remember the difference being that a lot of important numbers were uneven, such as 3 and 7. This is in conjunction with the superstition that 3 in the afternoon is thought to be significant to some people, that 3 in the morning is considered to be a time when the boundaries to the “spirit world” become thin, or, more seriously, when evil spirits manifest because the significance of the third hour during the night is seen as a “mockery” of the Holy Trinity. So it is also interesting that one of the few “even” numbers emphasized by the Church, the number 6, was considered to be largely evil because of its association with the Devil. By contrast, though, the number 12 was applied to many holy beliefs and observances, such as the 12 stations of the cross, the 12 apostles of Jesus, the 12 tribes of Israel, and so on. In any case, the connections that human-made mythology has to numbers is intriguing when we consider that a number applied a certain way is lucky, but another number can be extremely unlucky (12 versus 13, for example).
    I try to think about the Ashtanga in relation to the chakras as well; could it be that eight is present instead of seven to represent a further step? I know that with the chakras there is one that is above the head, and nearly “outside” the body, but this is not reciprocating below the root chakra. When I read into this I realized that there ARE actually more chakras; 5 additional ones in conjunction with the 7 that are more commonly referred to! As it turns out they exist in-between the other seven (8). This leads me to wonder how this is connected to the Ashtanga; bringing the concept of 4 into a realm of duality and making it 8 principles in totality. To compare, a common symbol of the Sun in Celtic culture is that of a circle with a cross in the middle, splitting it across the middle and down the front to make four corners. If we compare this to the Dharmacakra in Buddhism, we see that the same symbol exists but now another cross has split it into 8 pieces. So there is a human universalism in this duality, in this application of the numbers 8 and 4. I wonder if perhaps the Kriya is recommended to be completed an average of 4 times a week minimum due to a principle of duality; that is, four goes into eight twice.
    In regards to the Kriya practice, my weekly progress has been catching up. I still do the Kriya mostly at night before bed, to allow my mind to decompress and fully process the day’s activity. my first practice was Friday. I practiced the Kriya during a pre-meditation ritual for Mabon, as I am Wiccan. I felt energized and took the chance to do it outside away from the party noise that was going on in my apartment complex that night. I also took the chance to record it to monitor how my vocals have been coming along; it could’ve just been the camera quality but apparently I was saying it louder than I thought I was. This brought some welcome muscle relaxation after being cramped in a chair most of the day (along with the surprising chemical burns I received from my deoderant – yes I threw it out. It’s kind of scary how we sometimes don’t know what we may be putting on our bodies.)
    My second practice was Sunday. This was done before bed and was also done to release the stress from the weekend as well as focus on something OTHER than the hot weather. (Incredible, considering it is late September.) I find sound to be cleansing and this is why the vocal part of the Kriya is beneficial to me. Also it forces all of the negative thoughts from my mind to provide for a more restful sleep.
    My third practice for the week was on Monday night. I had day off of work the next day so I did this one later than usual; I did it in the dark too, so the sensory “shutdown” was a little unnerving but I wanted to try out a new environment. Overall it was a little unsettling at first being in the dark (this is not helped by reading horror stories right beforehand, bad move), but slowly I got used to it. I think this works similar to eliminating “light pollution”.
    Lastly, I completed the Kriya last night, on Tuesday, before bed. I was super tired already so this Kriya was a little shorter than the other three, so I will try to work on the Kriya when I am not as tired. The heat hasn’t been helping the focus but hopefully as the weather cools down it will improve! (Side note from Wednesday: the heat has NOT subsided but we must pull through.)

    (1) http://www.ancient-symbols.com/buddhist-symbols.html
    (2) http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666
    (3) http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+2:21%E2%80%932:21&version=nrsv
    (4) https://www.thoughtco.com/doors-of-jannah-2004342
    (5) https://bible.org/seriespage/beatitudes-matthew-51-12
    (6) http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/07363769710166800
    (7) https://books.google.com/books?id=wwf4mNNfSsEC&lpg=PA79&ots=TIp_irasEP&dq=8%20was%20the%20number%20of%20%22unmoving%22%20stars%20in%20the%20sky%2C%20and%20symbolized%20the%20perfection%20of%20incoming%20planetary%20energy&pg=PA79#v=onepage&q=8%20was%20the%20number%20of%20%22unmoving%22%20stars%20in%20the%20sky,%20and%20symbolized%20the%20perfection%20of%20incoming%20planetary%20energy&f=false
    (8) http://www.chakras.info/12-chakras/

    • There are about 114 chakras and many more on the subtle levels. 108 is another auspicious number for classical Indian hatha yoga. The IK practice prescribes daily sittings twice daily for 45 days or once for 90 days to complete the full process. Your explorations are wonderful and I hope you remain open and inquisitive. Thanks for investing in yourself and sharing an excellent yoga journal essay, Namaste

  26. This Ashtanga yoga practice is new information for me. The concept of yoga itself is still something I’m coming to terms with. It was intriguing to read on how the connection between the mind and body is critical to one’s self realization. One must follow the guidelines of the Ashtanga in order to come into their self realization.
    I’ve been maintaining the Isha Kriya practice for 3-4 days a week but I’m currently trying to stick to four so I can further expand my practice.
    – Samantha Diaz

  27. I like how the commodification of yoga was hinted at in the beginning of this reading. Ashtanga becoming a clothing line; not respecting or understanding the works of Shri Patanjali could be disrespectful to those who follow.When it comes to the Eight-fold path, it shows the beautiful connection between the body and the mind- what you are able to achieve with work and doing your yoga with intention and awareness.
    When doing the IK practice on my own I have done it a few times. In those times I do it by myself in my room when my housemates are gone so they don’t have to hear me chant. I’ll do it in the evening before I do work to get me balanced and vibrating,I will do the practice without the video and will set a timer on my phone. I plan on sharing the practice with my mother once I go back home.

  28. It’s interesting to learn about how these are the 8 steps in yoga- for how does one tangibly measure the success of their practice? It makes sense that they would be as abstract as they are. I am left curious what it would be like to meet a person who’s successfully reached the final step.
    I do my IK practice alone in my room most of the time, but I’ve done it with my boyfriend a few times. Usually I do it at night, or right around when the sun goes down because that’s when I seem to have the most amount of me time. I do it about 4 times a week now, and it’s starting to become a part of my routine, which is exciting. It’s pretty cool to see your self tangibly progress, being able to measure by your ability to make it a part of your routine. I taught my boyfriend the IK and he watched the video with me the first few times I did it- now I hope he can do it with me more! (Or at least on his own, for he should be doing it for himself, and not for the sake of companionship.)

  29. With so much going on during the day it can be very difficult to devote time to just sit and be still, so I have found it most effective when I incorporate the practice into my morning or nighttime routines. I have found success doing a combination of both throughout the week. Otherwise, once the day gets going, my mind becomes preoccupied with everything else. So far I have only done the practice alone when not in class because I sometimes find the presence of others distracting.

    I am working well with the first four of the 8 limbs although I can still improve my steadiness and strength. It is the latter four of the 8 which I struggle with, as my mind is always racing in thought. It is very hard to focus, even when I think I have done so my mind begins to run off with whatever thought came into it. I will need to do more work on the Pratyhara in order to withdraw myself from my senses. In time I believe it is possible. I will continue my Kriya practice going forward and hope to learn to quiet my mind in time.

    Catherine Halstead

  30. I love the idea of the 8-fold path in life. It seems like such an intricate and fascinating journey to take yourself on while seeking inner peace and spiritual enlightenment. Perfecting the application of each of these “paths” into our daily lives will grant us the freedom we so desire from negative mindsets such as greed, jealousy, possessiveness, and gluttony to name a few. For me the two most important paths are the yama and the niyama. I say this because I am constantly striving to conduct myself in the most ethical way possible as I continue on life’s journey. Unfortunately I have not always acted as ethically as I would have liked to in my younger years, and I would like to grow form these experiences and cherish the truth, honesty, and sincerity that comes with living a virtuous life on this path. Now all I want to do is surround myself with other people who share the same desire for strong integrity and transparency in communication. As for the niyama, In like to think that I am a very observant person. Making the right conscious observances will allow someone to apply the most ethical principles to their experiences, and in doing so realize their true potential as a virtuous, enlightened person. When you observe something through an honest perspective, you can feel the sincerity of the situation, and your actions will speak to the nature of your god moral character. It’s important that we allow our minds to receptive and conscious of other’s energies, so that we can give them our most honest, ethical reaction.

    I do my IK 5x per week, and will admit I do it for a bit longer than we do in class. Sometimes when I am striving to break free of my intelligence I find myself chanting longer and softer than I should. I also stay in silent contemplation for too long as I am trying to escape my “suffering”.

  31. I often find that when exploring my spirituality I am at a loss of where to start. It helps to have some sense of direction and organization in terms of breaking down the multiple aspects of life. For me personally I struggle with feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by big concepts. To be able to break down the process is immensely helpful. I could dictate and find practices based on what I feel I need or should work on the at moment. This article led me to ask if there is certain order in which these practices should be completed.
    I have been doing the Isha Kriya once a day, 3 days a week or so. I have been wanting to increase the amount that I practice it, but I have been struggling with prioritizing it. I find that I struggle with the stillness and finding the space and time to focus. I feel uncomfortable without having some kind of sensory distract, and the meditation allows me to challenge that. I look forward to seeing how the practice will affect my patience and focus in other areas of my life.

    • On Wednesdays in the Wellness Center a noon time Guided Meditation is led by a Faculty Doctor who would be a great person for you to meet and seek advice from. Try to meet her tomorrow.

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