Have you heard of the after-holiday blues? I don’t know if that’s a real thing but good night I feel like I have it. Probably because starting in October you are so stinking busy preparing for the holidays and that doesn’t stop until about now. We keep so busy that once the holidays slow down you have to completely change your routine. At least this is the case for me. I’m finding that I am more depressed lately than not. I’m not sure why I’m feeling blue but I am DONE feeling like this! So starting today I am changing the way I think about all the feels. I’ve always struggled with seasonal affective disorder but I believe that this is a form of depression that is easily manageable. Don’t bite my head off for saying that, I just know that for me personally I can change my feelings by altering a few things in my daily life.
In yoga, there are 8 limbs of yoga. You may roll your eyes and look over the next few paragraphs but I promise if you truly listen to what I’m about to tell you your whole life will change. I promise you.
I’m reading a wonderful book called Wonderlust. It’s a workbook designed to help you reach your truest form of self. There is a quote that I love so much in regards to the 8 limbs and happiness, “It’s safe to say that as human beings we share a common desire to be happy. Individually, what fulfills that desire is as unique as our fingerprints or the color of our eyes. But if we look at the grand unifiers, we see a universal longing to create meaning in our lives, the desire to be content and to be free from suffering.”
The 8 limbs of yoga are the pillars to a happy life. These pillars took me almost a year to comprehend and I am still learning more and more about each one. You can look up just one of the limbs and find days worth of information on how to practice said limb. I want to share with you, in the easiest way possible, to understand the power of yoga in controlling how you view yourself and the world.
8 Limbs of Yoga-
- Yama- Ethical practices often referred to as “restraints” that pertain to the way you interact with the world. These are moral principles, they provide the foundation for living a conscientious life, from your relationship with others to your relationship with yourself.
There are 5 subcategories to the yamas.
- Ahimsa (ah-he-m-sa): is non-violence, compassion and kindness.
- Satya (saught-ya): truth, truthfulness, honesty.
- Asteya (ah-stay-ya): nonstealing.
- Brahmacharya (bra-ma-char-ya): can be described as celibacy but is more defined as a conservation of energy in order to direct your attention toward divine pursuits and self-knowledge.
- Aparigraha (a-par-a-gra-ha): nongreed, nonhoarding.
2. Niyamas- These are observances that refine your relationship with the world.
There are 5 subcategories to the Niyamas as well (don’t worry, these 2 are the only ones that have subcategories!)
- Saucha (sou [as in sour]- oooh-cha): cleanliness, inside and out.
- Santosha (sounds like santosha): The practice of being happy for no reason at all. YOU GUYS, THIS. THIS ONE. TAKE IT TO HEART.
- Tapas (ta-paws): self-discipline, austerity; literally translates as “to burn”. To purify through power and heat of intentional practices such as asana (yoga poses) and pranayama (breathing and meditation).
- Svhadyaya (svad-ya-ya): self-study.
- Isvara Pranidhana (sounds just like it’s spelled): Surrendering to the supreme, devotion to God, recognizing the essence in all beings.
3. Asana: Asana is the physical practice of yoga. It creates a steadiness and eases the body and the mind.
4. Pranayama: Liberation or extension of life force through practice of the breath.
5. Pratyahara: Practice of turning the power of one’s senses inward. Think of a turtle withdrawing into a shell.
6. Dharana: Practice of concentration. (meditation)
7. Dhyana: Outcome of long-held concentration on a single point or experience: absorption. (deeper meditation)
8. Samadhi: Absorption in the experience of supreme consciousness. (deepest state of meditation)
5-8 are primarily about meditation and reaching a blissful state. The 8 limbs were written roughly 2,000 years ago as a scaffolding for a mental and physical transformation. They are a blueprint for self-discovery and are intended to be studied over a lifetime. I always go back to these whenever I am feeling blue or a little “off”. Reading these, taking them to heart, always changes my view on life. Of course it only means as much as you want it to mean but if you truly take these to heart your life will be changed.
Because there are so many things to contemplate and discover I will focus on one or two limbs and really take them to heart. I will study them, apply them and become them.
Saucha and Santosha are the biggest motivators for me, being happy for no reason and cleanliness. I don’t know about you but if my house is a mess and I’m in a not-so-great mood cleaning helps me perk up. I don’t ever WANT to get up and clean but after it’s done I feel like I am more aware and a little less on edge. Saucha is a very, very hard thing to wrap your mind around. Being happy for no reason at all. But listen to me people, please understand the power of a smile. Have you ever been in the shittiest mood but someone gives you the most heartfelt smile? You can’t help but feel a little better, even for a brief moment.
Yesterday I had a really bad day, nothing was cheering me up and I just needed to have a pity party for a moment. I realized that I was taking my frustrations out on my husband, who did nothing to deserve it. About halfway through my bitchiness I realized that maybe I was the culprit, so I decided to remove myself from the situation. I went and took a shower and got my ugly girl cry out in the sanctity of my locked bathroom. After I had my pity party I told myself to knock that shit off and to be kind. Not everyone has the same views as you and that’s ok. I told myself to cheer up and to walk into the living room and say (WITHOUT AN ATTITUDE) I am sorry. So I did just that. I got dressed, looked deep into my own eyes and told myself to get over it right before I apologized to my husband, who so sweetly said, “It’s ok babe, you’ve had a bad day”. I had to practice both saucha and santosha at the same time. I had to be happy for no reason at all and I took a shower to cleanse myself of the day.
There are many ways to get out of a funk using yoga. You can take time to work on your asana, or physical practice, along with pranayama, or meditation focusing on your breath. Pick a couple. Focus on them and research them. Let them consume you and take them to heart.
Choose happiness. Choose to be the light in the world. Be happy and radiate love. You’ll never reach this state entirely, it’s something to work on and learn about over the course of your lifetime. People will notice it and they will want to be around you.
Friends, you’re beautiful. You’re kind and you’re loved. You have so much to be happy about. You’re richer than you know and smarter than you think. I want to help you become the best version of yourself. I love you all. I LOVE YOU ALL.
Namaste, my friends.