A Picture Perfect Yoga Lesson:  The 8 Limbs

A Picture Perfect Yoga Lesson: The 8 Limbs

Forget what you think you know about yoga for a moment, and just consider that there maybe is a different perspective. The words you are about to read are true, I know this because I lived them. Life is perspective, but yoga is everywhere.

The man in the hospital bed is my father-in-law and he is surrounded by people who love him. We have tears in our eyes, but still laughter breaks out in reminiscence of family gatherings and inside jokes. Bygones be bygones because today is just not the time or place. This beautiful soul has touched so many and we are all here because we care.

I am so thankful I have been studying and honing my practice. The self-study, the discipline, and dedication I have put into being the person I am. Having the ability to take the time for myself to recharge, seek nutrition, and find a sense of calm. I am here for my husband and his family.

The hospital chaplain comes in the room, we lower our heads to pray. Everyone, even those not of faith, grasp each other’s hands. You don’t have to believe in a specific God to want this wonderful man to have peace and no pain. The chaplain spoke, and the word ‘Amen’ echoed.

After the chaplain and I spoke for a while and I mentioned how thankful I was for yoga. She smiled and said “I started yoga about a month ago. I like it, but the teacher puts us in these positions I can barely get out of. ”

I could not help myself, I leaned in for a hug which she gladly accepted. With tears welling in my eyes I said: ” May I please explain to you the reasons why that hurts my soul. ” She nodded.

This was my explanation:

The first lesson of yoga is Yama

  • Non-Harming – Not causing harm to one’s self or others. I have witnessed the absolute kindness of all of the wonderful doctors and nurses. Even stopping unessential routines that might cause unrest.
  • Truthfulness – Between family members in the hardest of moments.
  • Non-stealing- Sharing of one’s time even when there are only precious few left.
  • Moderation – Knowing when enough is enough, and it’s time to walk away.
  • Generosity- The generosity of the community, family, and strangers has been amazing.

The second lesson of yoga is Niyama (Coming to Terms with yourself)

  • Dedication – To your yourself, family, and practice.
  • Cleanliness – Spending hours in a hospital, you need to make sure you are washing your hands and taking care of your health.
  • Contentment- Focusing on the silver lining is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but knowing what is good and right in you can help others through this difficult time.
  • Self Study- Relying on self-realization and yoga has helped so much through this process.
  • Austerity- Surrendering to the fact that you have no control. It’s so humbling to realize that no one knows when or why the final moment occurs. There are speculations but in the end, a life begins and ends with a breath.

The third lesson of yoga is Asana – that pose you cannot make, means that it isn’t right for you.

The man before us now is shifted bi-hourly to limit atrophy. We all know the way our body screams because it’s been too long in one position, like sitting at a desk or behind a wheel. Movement is a part of yoga but not the total sum.

The fourth lesson of yoga is Pranayama- control of breath.

In loving support, I have tried to comfort my husband by reminding him to ‘take deep breaths’ and now, we sit bedside listening as the breath fades away.
The fifth lesson of yoga is Pratyahara – detachment from the world.

Turning yourself inward. Controlling your senses. I was really never so aware of this until I watched a man start to lose his.

The sixth lesson of yoga is Dhahran – Steadying of the mind.

I feel as though I am being pulled in a thousand different directions, but somehow need to find a single path. I need to be steady for everyone around me even though my heart is aching.

The seventh lesson of yoga is Dhyana – observation, contemplation, reflection.

This seems to be all consuming right now. We sit and wait. The observation in abatement.

The eighth and final lesson is Samadhi – pure bliss and tranquility, a euphoria that is undefinable.

This is what I want for the man who lies before me.

The Chaplain could see the tears streaming from eyes, my husband had now joined me. She hugged me tightly and thanked me for our talk. I think we both learned a lot about yoga from that conversation.

We have said goodbye to this dear man; relief and pain have become our friends.

Yoga is so much more than the classes or studios, outfits or fad. Yoga is all around you. The purpose of being taught yoga is to have your instructor help you find parts that you can’t see or never thought to look at. A picture perfect lesson is to explore.