Applying the 8-Limbs of Yoga to Everyday Life

I recently went back to school to finish up some coursework and found myself in a moment in which I could apply the 8-Limbs of Yoga to my studies to set myself up for success in my best way possible.  The eightfold path of Patanjali’s yoga consists of a set of prescriptions for a morally disciplined and purposeful life, of which asanas (yoga postures) form only one limb. 

Here is one situation in which I found myself utilizing the 8-limbs of yoga in a moment of school-related stress:

Yamas (abstinences): Not causing harm by keeping my cool in the face of stress. Being honest with myself in dedicating enough time to study and making the commitment, and avoiding dropping this focus down to go for something easier or more pleasurable than drawing chemical equations and solving math problems.

Nyamas (disciplines): Taking a shower first so I feel clean, and not distracted.  Theres such a nice feeling of being clean that can help you be more present and focused and content with yourself. Taking lots of breaks when I can feel myself becoming overwhelmed or exhausted, and frequently checking in to see how present I am in that moment or if I need another break.

Asana (postures): Using the physical practice of yoga to help my body when its been sitting in stillness at a desk for several hours consecutively. Also making sure where I am sitting is comfortable, and rechecking with my seated posture to make sure I’m not slouching in my seat.

Pranayama (breath): Lots of breathing.  Controlling deep inhales and exhales to release tension every now and then.

Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses): Drawing my attention inward and getting into a mental flow into learning. 

Dharana  (Concentration): Knowing when I have lost that flow of attention when I become lost or confused, and trying again to get back into the mental flow.

Dyhana (Meditative absorption): Checking in with me to see if I understand the material, could I replicate it in an exam?

Samadhi (Integration): Becoming one with the content I’m studying.  Allowing it to integrate into my previous knowledge of the subject, and being knowledgeable enough on the subject to expand on it more. 

Finding myself utilizing the 8-limbs in life has really opened my awareness of how yoga eventually does weave itself into your life in one form or another.