073: 8 Limbs of Yoga (Part 1) with Shannon Crow

Shannon is excited to share the meaning the 8 Limbs of Yoga has brought to her life. Derived from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, this eight-fold path provides guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life. The eight components focus on morals, ethics, and self-discipline.

Shannon was introduced to the 8 Limbs when she took a yoga teacher training. She began studying the guidelines in depth 5 or 6 years ago and continues her study to this day. Shannon felt pulled to apply these philosophical principles into her teaching and everyday life.

The importance of the eight-fold path felt especially grounding when Shannon began working with clients in a physiotherapy office. Her new focus caused Shannon to ask exactly what was her scope of practice. She wondered if she was leaning towards working as a physiotherapist. Shannon determined through inner work and self-study (Svadhyaya) that her scope of practice encompassed anything grounded in The Eight Limbs of Yoga, including helping her clients find movement so they can sit in meditation.

Shannon names and describes the 8 Limbs of Yoga and offers an outline for applying the principles to your teaching and personal life. A lot of the exercises include journaling work but it that isn’t your favourite medium feel free to think or meditate on the challenges and outcome of your experience. As always, Shannon doesn’t want you to feel overwhelmed by taking on all the challenges at once. Perhaps work on the one that calls to you in particular. Please share any insights gained through inquiry or your own take on the 8 Limbs of Yoga and what they have brought to your life.

[8:48] Shannon’s overview of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

[12:20] How Shannon has applied the Eight Limbs in her work as a yoga teacher and in determining her scope of practice

[14:00] Using language keeping Ahimsa (nonviolence) in mind, for example, say “You have a knee that needs extra care and attention” instead of  “You have a bad knee”

[15:05] Giving credit to teachers you have learned from is one form of putting Asteya (non-stealing) into practice

[16:25] Asking your student how their movements feel, how their body feels differently from one day to the other, and one side to the other encourages inquiry and empowers your students to put Svadhyaya (the study of self) into practice

[18:20] Reminder that Asanas are 1/16th of the 8 Limbs and the importance of this for Shannon’s student who was limited in movement after she broke her knee

[19:35] Shannon’s “homework assignment” to help you incorporate the Eight Limbs into your own life:

[21:05] 1. Yama

Ahimsa Chose to do something to demonstrate self-love today and in your journal write your name, draw a picture and draw a heart around it

Satya Tell someone a positive truth about another person today and write about your experience with this

Asteya Find a quote that speaks to you today, write it down with the author’s name and then research 3 things about them

Brahmacharya Set a boundary for the moderation of your energy in some way today. Write it as though it is already so. For example, “I am shutting off all screens by 8 pm to allow time to settle and encourage sleep.”

Aparigraha Notice if you are tempted to label something as “mine” and try to change the wording, e.g. instead of my yoga students or my children use their names

[25:45] 2. Niyama

Saucha Choose something to clean today and feel this is a sacred ritual instead of a job on the to-do list. Draw or take a picture of the before and after.

Santosa Write about a life experience that was challenging at the time that you are now content with and grateful for. How might you have acted differently if you knew what you know now?

Tapas Choose something that you’d like to do for the next 40 days and use your willpower to help achieve your goal. Write it down and tell a supportive friend about your goal.

Svadhyaya Look over past journal entries and reflect on it, add notes or add anything you’ve learned about yourself. If you don’t have a journal you can start one and look back after some time has passed.

Isvara pranidhana Write one of the following words in your journal and write or doodle around it: surrender, devotion, dedication or faith

[31:15] 3. Asana Create an asana or yoga pose that you have never seen or done, give it a name and draw it out

[32:15] 4. Pranayama Set a timer for three minutes and sit comfortably, choose a pranayama practice and write down how you feel afterwards

[33:25] 5. Pratyahara Write down 5 character traits you’d like to exhibit even in the chaotic and stress of everyday life. Sit in meditation for 5 minutes visualizing embodying these traits.

[34:40] 6. Dharana Light a candle and sit in meditation focusing on the light of the candle for 3-5 minutes. Notice as much detail as you can about the candle and draw a picture of the candle or jot down some words following the meditation.

[35:15] 7. Dhyana Set aside a few minutes to walk in nature, in silence. Notice all that is going on around you and notice if you feel a part of it or separate from (or maybe somewhere in between) the world around you. Write about how you can feel part of nature staying focused on your true qualities.

[35:45] 8. Samadhi Write about or meditate on an activity or experience when you felt a moment of bliss (even fleetingly) and connection to the divine (something bigger than you)

[36:35] Shannon’s final thoughts on the 8 Limbs and the personalization of these guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life as well as a sneak preview of upcoming summer episodes


8 Limbs Printable PDF

Applying the 8 Limbs “homework”

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