The basis for the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program is an ancient form of yoga known as raja yoga, which means “royal union.” The essence of raja yoga is the union or integration of body, mind, and soul through practices that enhance mind-body coordination. These practices awaken grace, clarity, strength, and the development of body-centered restful awareness that allow us to enjoy a sense of calm and quiet confidence even in the midst of chaos. Raja yoga can be practiced by anyone with a little bit of training.
Raja yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali, a legendary sage whose life is shrouded in the mists of myth and history. It is generally believed that he lived in the area now known as India two centuries before the birth of Christ. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali elaborates what he calls the eight limbs of yoga – the eight aspects of yogic practice and philosophy. In fact, raja yoga is commonly called ashtanga yoga, which means “eight-limbed yoga.” These eight components of yoga help us shift from a constricted, ego-based perspective to expanded consciousness and true freedom.
According to Patanjali, whenever we are solely identified with our ego, we bind ourselves to things that do not have permanent reality. This may be attachment to a relationship, a job, or a material possession. It also may be attachment to a belief or an idea of the way things should be. Whatever the object of attachment is, the binding of our identity to something that resides in the world of forms and phenomena is the seed cause of distress, unhappiness, and illness. Remembering that who we really are isn’t trapped into the volume of a body for the span of a lifetime is the key to genuine freedom and joy.
In his article “A New Look at Yoga,” David Simon – a yoga practitioner and teacher for more than 30 years – explores the eight limbs of yoga, offering new light and insights into how we can use these ancient yogic principles to experience more happiness, balance, and fulfillment in our 21st–century lives.
“The essence of yoga is awakening to who you really are – your true nature. You are not a bundle of conditioned reflexes, you are not your body, and you are not your mind. At your core you are pure consciousness, inextricably connected to the universal intelligence that brings the Unmanifest into manifestation.” ~ David Simon