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Attaining enlightenment is the goal of a spiritual practice, through which I aim to attain a spirit of happiness. When I reach enlightenment I hope to be warm, joyful, radiant and remarkable at ease.
To achieve enlightenment, you must surrender your ego, and stand free from all desires, actions and consequences. To be enlightened you must be in a complete state of moksha – a total state of oneness.
Enlightenment is the goal in yoga, to be so at peace with oneself and to be in a constant state of bliss. To be enlightened is to be in a state of peace and wholeness.
In our yoga teacher trainings – in Vancouver, Bali, Toronto, Thailand and Hawaii – we use Sutra by Patanjali, who believed that yoga was more than just a physical practice; he believed that yoga was a lifestyle. Patanjali developed the Yoga Sutras and the eight limbs of yoga as a way to living a better more fulfilled life.
The eight limbs of yoga were developed as a value system and are considered to be the 8 steps to reach enlightenment.
The first 5 steps are the foundation and are focused on the body and mind. The final 3 steps are focused on reconditioning the mind.
- Yama – This refers to how you treat yourself, the world, and everyone around you, this is your sense of integrity. There are 5 yamas. These are considered the “don’ts”. A. Non-violence (ahimsa) – Committing not to harm any living thing. B. Honesty (Satya) – Vowing not to cheat or lie. C. Not to steal (Asteya) – Not to be selfish, not to steal material or intangible objects. D. Nonlust (brahmacharya) – Brahmacharya translates to celibacy but this isn’t the intention of this yama. By nonlust Patanjali is referring to the right use your energy. E. Non-possessiveness (aparigraha) – To make your life simple, only have the things you need, don’t buy tangible items just to have and collect.
- Niyamas – These are considered the “do’s”. Referred to as observances. A. Purity (Shauca) – By practicing the 5 yamas it will help you keep your thoughts and your surroundings clean and clear. You can remove any negative thoughts. B. Contentment (Santosha) – Finding peace in who you are, what you have, and acknowledging where you are in life and choosing to grow from there. C. Austerity ( tapas) – Developing self discipline.
- Study of sacred texts (svadhyaya) – Being willing to learn about anything that inspires you. Knowledge is power. E. Living with an awareness of the divine (Ishvarapranidhana) – Being devoted to a higher power of whatever you consider divine. (buddha, god etc.)
- Asana – The physical postures in yoga. Patanjali used the asana practice not as a way to stay in shape but to prepare the body for meditation.
- Pranayama – Prana is the energy that flows through every single human being through our breath. Pranayama means breath control. By focusing on our breath it helps eliminate distractions when meditating.
- Pratyahara – Pratyahara occurs anytime we focus our attention inward, it is the withdrawal of the senses.
- .Dharana – This means to be able to concentrate effortlessly by thinking of an object mantra
- Samadhi – The goal of Patanjali’s 8 limbed path is to reach Samadhi the state of oneness. Once you have reached Samadhi you are considered to be enlightened.