Patanjali laid out an 8 Limbed Path of Yoga to connect with the deepest layers of Self and ultimately to find happiness. Some yoga scholars believe when we begin a yoga asana practice we often feel as though something is missing. What may be missing is an understanding of Yogic Philosophy. The best place to begin is the 8-Fold Path. The 8-Fold Path consists of:
- Yama (how to treat others)- non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, virtuous sexuality and non-attachment
- Niyama (how you treat yourself)- cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, surrender to something larger than you
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration or focused mind)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (bliss or union with the divine)
The final yama delivered to us from Patanjali asks us to take all of these behaviors toward others: kindness, truthfulness, non-stealing, and virtuous sexuality; and to let go of any fruits of your actions. You can be kind, but don’t expect others to be kind in return. You can be truthful, but don’t expect others to be truthful in return… Basically, we need to act the way we know is right; however, we also need to let go of expectations that others will do the same.
Attachment to what we think should be happening can often cause more struggle than the actual event in our lives. We get so caught up in thinking we know what should be happening to us or how others should treat us. Our expectations, or attachment to the outcome, can cause more frustration than if we just accepted what is. We often cause ourselves a lot of mental anguish and frustration when we can not let go of our own ideas or let go of our expectations of others.
Patanjali asks us to remember all of the yamas, or ways to treat others, but to do this free from expectation. This is a tall order and may take some time and practice. Next time you find yourself caught or snared because of something someone else said or did see if you can soften slightly and not be so attached to what you think the other person should be doing. Soften and open to the experience remembering kindness and truthfulness in each moment.