In the past several months, I have been writing mostly about my journey in completing a 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training as well as the lessons I learned along the way. For the rest of this year, I will be diving deeper into a topic of Yoga Philosophy that every Yoga Teacher learns about in their teacher training: The Eight Limbs of Yoga. As a Yogi that follows the scriptures written in the Bible, I will be writing about the Eight Limbs from a Christian’s perspective.
Just to tell you more about me beyond what my bio says on this website, I come from a Buddhist lineage. As a young child in Seoul, South Korea, we used to go to a Buddhist temple a few times a year, and we used to observe “jesa” which is a ceremony to honor and invoke the presence of deceased ancestors spirits on the anniversary of their death. We weren’t super strict Buddhists, but these things that we did were part of our ancestral tradition that were handed down for many generations. When we moved to the United States in 1983, I started going to a church with my neighborhood friends for social reasons. Even though my reason to going to church was purely selfish, the seeds of faith were planted but stayed dormant throughout my teen years.
As a sophomore at California State University in Northridge in 1994, I asked a few of my Christian friends to teach me what I needed to know to become a true, committed disciple of Jesus Christ. The more I learned about God’s plans for me through the Bible, the more I felt compelled to walk away from everything that was holding me back from living a life full of hope, love and a “peace that transcends all understanding.”
Fast forward to the beginning of 2013: I enrolled in a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training that ended up transforming my life with God completely. I learned techniques that helped me to become still so that I can hear God’s whispers, and I went through a self-inquiry that helped me to understand my tendencies toward godly things as well as my tendencies toward self-destruction. I received some push-back from well-intentioned Christians for practicing and teaching Yoga, but surprisingly, these encounters helped me to become more secure in my “unique” methods of connecting with God. I put the word “unique” in quotations because they’re really not unique at all: Meditation is mentioned throughout the Bible, and — depending on your intentions — the Yoga poses themselves could mean nothing, or they could mean everything.
Fast forward to 2020: My family and I have moved back to Texas after living in North Carolina for 4½ years, and I am still learning and growing as a student and a teacher of Yoga and Meditation… and this growth helps me to get closer and closer to the authentic, pure essence of who God has created me to be. There are some things in Yoga Philosophy that I disagree with; but guess what? There isn’t one school of thought or philosophy in Yoga! When I come across any Yoga philosophy that does not align with the Bible, I choose to not let that be part of what I practice. This does not make me less of a Yogi just like practicing and teaching Yoga does not make me less of a Christian. Yoga is a tool to help enhance one’s faith and belief system. Contrary to popular belief, Yoga does not belong to one single religion. The Eight Limbs of Yoga that I will be elaborating on for the remainder of the year are as follows:
- Yama – “Moral Code/Guidelines” toward external environment
- Niyama – “Personal Code/Guidelines” toward oneself
- Asana – Physical postures
- Pranayama – Breath Control
- Pratyahara – Sense Withdrawal
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Union with God or Complete Integration
Next week, I will begin a deep-dive on the first aspect of Yama, which is Ahimsa (Non-Violence).