Yoga–Just Another Way of Getting a Good Workout, Right? NOT!

Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Health and Fitness, Self Improvement, Yoga | 6 comments


Note: This is a repost from my former blog site. I wanted to share it with you here as a little food for thought before I launch into an exploration of the eight limbs. Enjoy!

What do you think about when you hear the word yoga? I’d venture to say that most people envision somebody twisted into exotic looking postures, looking perfectly peaceful and serene as they do amazing feats of balance, strength, and flexibility. When they think of yoga class, they might imagine a bunch of people moving from pose to pose accompanied by new agey music, following the guidance of an instructor in tight little black pants.  If asked about the benefits of yoga, they might reply, “You get flexible.  You get strong. You get to look at a bunch of hot girls and guys sweating all around you in all kinds of different positions…”

What many people don’t know is that the physical postures of yoga comprise one limb of an eight-limbed path called Astanga Yoga or Raja Yoga, considered to be the supreme or royal path.  It is believed that all of those eight limbs together can lead practitioners to the attainment of universal oneness, as they return to awareness of their own true nature.

The path of yoga is meant to inform and transform one’s daily life, so that little by little one can move beyond the illusion of struggle and chaos, and find stillness in the midst of all of the activity that life asks of us.  It is in this stillness that we come to remember who we really are, and we realize that all is well. We can breathe, and relax, be at peace, and en-JOY our lives.  It is from this peaceful, joyful place that all of our actions and decisions can benefit ourselves and the people around us, and ultimately the whole world.

As a yoga teacher I try to weave aspects of the eight limbs into my classes so that when my students leave, they have an understanding of themselves that extends beyond their bodies.  It’s a crying shame, in my opinion, for students to walk out of a yoga class saying to themselves, “Wow, my body is tired.  That was some great exercise,” and then just go on about their normal daily lives the way they were before the class.

Please join me in the coming weeks as I explore the eight limbs of yoga in greater depth.  In an effort to illustrate how this ancient path is as applicable to our lives today as it was for the ancients who discovered its riches, I will draw upon the writings and teachings of various yogis and yoginis who have walked the path themselves, and who have experienced first-hand the deep transformation that yoga brings to body, mind, and spirit.


  1. Lorien…thanks for sharing more of your yoga philosophy. I always enjoy the time we spend together on Tuesday nights as we practice. I definitely would benefit more by expanding my practice in the way you describe…by breathing, relaxing, enjoying and weaving what I practice on the mat into my daily dealings and thought processes about life. Remembering that the same “flexibility” we experience on our mat can be applied to many life situations by looking at things differently and acting in calmness versus reacting in the habitual ways we’ve all learned over the years. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for all you contribute to our lives by being present and sharing your practice!

    • Yayy! Thanks Amy for stopping by, so good to see you here. I love what you said about weaving what you practice on the mat into your daily experiences. It can be so challenging to change patterns of thought that were established so long ago, perhaps even before we were born. But this is why we call it a practice–the more steadfast effort and time we put in, the more our practice will yield results. We have hiccups along the way, and we try again. We keep practicing, we grow stronger. Just the fact that you know you can take your awareness with you from the mat into your life gives you the openminded-ness needed to see where you can do your transformation work. I feel so privileged to have you in class with me. Thank you for bringing your presence to asana practice and to this world!

  2. Lorien, I wish there were more teachers like you. If the focus is only on asana, a student is missing out on so much that can have an incredible impact on their lives. I try to bring aspects of all eight limbs into the classes I teach too. I try to show the students how to take what they learn in class on the mat off the mat. I’d love to attend one of your classes.

    • Wow, thanks Eric for your kind words. It’s encouraging to hear your earnestness about sharing the eight limbs in your classes; your students certainly benefit from your mindfulness and care. It would be wonderful to see you in class some day, and I’d love to show up to your class and soak in your teachings as well!

  3. I always pictured yoga involving things like waterfalls and elephants and blooming cherry trees where the petals were all falling on a bunch of impossibly thin good looking people that were quietly mediating. I guess what I am saying is that whenever I picture yoga the weather is always perfect. Which is why I can’t do yoga today.

    It’s snowing. And it’s cold. And I have to eat this candy.

    You know what? I just really really suck at yoga.

    • Holly, thank you for that awesome image. I think you need to draw that picture so I can post it to my site. I think a lot of people would sign on. “Wow, this is what yoga is about? I’m IN!” I love what you wrote. And just in case you didn’t already know, you can do yoga whenever, wherever, however you are. It’s more a state of mind than it is a state of body, or weather, or what flora and fauna are in your immediate vicinity. So grab your candy, take a bite, inhale your arms up overhead, and exhale forward fold…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.