Day 28 – Gratitude

There is a power in every moment – a chance for happiness if you look for it. And it’s every person’s responsibility to find those moments and cherish them.”

– May Parker (Spiderman’s Aunt)

This morning we’re taking responsibility to cherish the countless powerful moments that led us here, day 28.

With the help of our mats and what we put on our tables we fed our annaymaya kosha. In tapping into our breath and getting intentional about how we hold and release energy we tended to our pranayama kosha. Seeking out rest and exploring mantras enabled us to attune to our manomaya kosha. Providing relief to our senses and drawing upon our inner wisdom allowed us to strengthen our vijnanamaya kosha. And acknowledging the ways in which we are connected and what most inspires us helps the brilliance of our anandamaya kosha to shine.

But these moments of yoga practice tell only part of what supported us through our commitment. There are the moments when people let themselves be seen. Moments when we let go of something with no guarantees of what would come in its place. Moments when we were stopped in our tracks by our own resilience and resourcefulness. Moments when someone stood by our sides in support, just because.

We thank you for the moments you created and shared with us this month, all 252 of us. We thank you for inspiring and humbling us in all your moments of practice, on and off the mat. We thank you for being part of our community and a part of our journey.

We invite you to pause this final day, to reflect on the cherish-worthy individuals and moments that were key to getting you to this moment. For added inspiration, we’ve called upon 8 Limbs Teacher, Education Coordinator and resident Gratitude Guru Kathleen Dowd. See below for how Kathleen has gotten in the habit of cherishing and cultivating happiness through gratitude.

And please do share your cherishable moments in our Facebook group!

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff

GRATITUDE with Kathleen Dowd

I had a regular practice of writing down things I was grateful for – I call them gratitudes – for several years before I started to share them with others. Initially it was simply an internal reflective practice. As I thought about ways I could deepen my connection with friends and families, the gratitude practice began to take on a whole new level of both practice and feeling.

What evolved was a practice of sharing what I am grateful for about each person directly with that person. Oftentimes it is a short little text message – maybe sharing one thing I am thinking of in the moment: “I’m grateful for your phone call this morning – thank you!” or “I’m grateful for how you always find a way to make me smile.” I find that I really can’t do too many of these types of text messages; people simply love them. And as little as I generally enjoy texting, sending these actually brings me great joy.

This gratitude practice has evolved to be in virtually every type of communication I have with friends and family. As I’m driving on my way into work with my sweetie I always try to include at least one or two things about him for which I’m grateful. I do this at work with colleagues after, say, a meeting about a challenging topic: “I’m grateful for your ability to hold space for all sides of this conversation; thank you for helping me seeing this broadly.”

Finally, during times of more significance, I really dig deep into a feeling of gratitude for that person. All of my birthday cards, for example, are pretty much shaped around what I love about and am grateful for in each person. I typically don’t write holiday cards, but this past year I found myself writing a few, motivated by what I was grateful for about each recipient and our shared experiences over the past year.

Usually I start these letter writing periods with a few moments of pause and silent reflection about that person. I like to take the time to really think about it and also see what comes up from a deeper level when I allow myself a few minutes of silence to both think and feel about that person. I find this helps me get to a deeper sense of gratitude that goes beyond my head and more deeply into my being.

The results are amazing. I feel a deeper connection and sense of love with my friends and family, the people more important to me. I know I’m giving a gift that people truly appreciate – one friend just told me she is still carrying around the Christmas card I wrote her and she rereads it often. And I know I’ve substantially improved my own life by focusing on the abundance and joy in my own life – I feel rich beyond measure.


Kathleen is both the Education Coordinator for 8 Limbs and a teacher out of our Capitol Hill Studio. She is also nearing completion of her Yoga Therapy Certification and is viewed by those of us behind the scenes as our resident Gratitude expert. To learn more about Kathleen and her teaching schedule click here.


We’re almost to the finish line! What better way to celebrate than with a special party just for you? Join the rest of the 28 Day Community for our Closing Celebration!

February 28 at 8 Limbs Capitol Hill

7:45 – 8:45pm*

* Immediately following the final 28 Day Restorative class. More on that below.


We hope you can join us in the final dedicated 28 Day class this evening. In this All Levels Restoratives class, led by Michelle, we will be guided through the koshas from gross to subtle – from the physical body, through the energetic and mental/emotional bodies, to a blissful experience. Allow yourself the opportunity to feel that deep-down sense of peace that yoga says is our birthright. 8 Limbs Capitol Hill, 6:30-7:45pm. 28 Day Celebration immediately after.

Day 27 – Part II


As we near the end of our commitment we feel it’s important to spend some time considering our life and practice post-commitment, a period we’ve come to recognize as “Part II”.
“Part I” of our commitment (or of a series, workshop or retreat) is the part of our journey that is highly structured, containing concrete guidance and support.  “Part II”, on the other hand, represents the portion of our journey when we step beyond this other-made construct, ideally weave in learnings from Part I into our regular life, and recalibrate.
Abrupt or unconscious transitions can be surprisingly and emotionally difficult.  They can also, in some instances, even bring about an experience of acute grief. Bringing a sense of mindfulness to these key transitions, however, can offer an emotionally-gentle opportunity to fully integrate insights and transformations into our lives moving forward.
Below you’ll find suggestions for creating a conscious “Part II”.  We also invite you to share ways you plan to transition out of this formal commitment into your own “Part II” in our Facebook group.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


Be kind to your nervous system.

Delay resuming your full responsibilities for a bit. Gradually re-introduce some of the responsibilities and commitments you’ve been tabling during the month of February. Do you really need to catch up on all your emails that first day?

Honor your transformations.

Be intentional in what, to whom and how you share significant transformations from your 28 Day Commitment. As James Baraz, one of Executive Director Ashley Dahl’s Meditation Teachers cautioned her, when we simply tell and retell our stories, they can become simply that, a story. A story outside of us rather than a dynamic insight fully living within us.

Build in a “Sabbath.”

Or several Sabbaths, or consistent Sabbaths. Intentionally make space for letting insights sink in and take root.

Follow YOUR path.

Reflect on what you’re learning about your own practice and yourself within your practice. Throughout the normal ebbs and flows of your life, what would following your practice look like? What yoga paths would be a part of that?

Let go.

Ask yourself, what might it be time to say goodbye to in order to grow your practice into to what best serves you at this juncture in your life?

Keep a schedule.

Continue mapping out your practice if that helped you during this Commitment.

Be realistic.

Practicing with the intensity that you have been this month is very likely not sustainable over the long haul. Set yourself up for success by focusing on a few simple practice nuggets to extend into your post-commitment life. You can always add more in time if that feels right.

Prepare for discomfort.

It is natural to feel a loss, or experience grief, when the structured aspects of this commitment are gone. Plan ahead how you might show compassion for yourself should that arise. What are specific ways you can take care of yourself?

Reach out to your Sangha.

Reach out to those other folks in the purple wristbands and make some yoga dates. This can go a long way in terms of transitioning out of things like daily emails, daily classes and the Facebook group.

Register for a workshop, series or retreat.

Anchoring our lives with dedicated opportunities to step back into or deepen our journeys goes a long way in terms of maintaining our practices over the long haul. What piqued your interest? What do you want to further explore? Having something already on the books can be a tremendous source of comfort as you ease out of this structured experience.


Svadhaya is a Sanksrit word meaning self-study. It is one of the five Niyamas in the eight-fold path of yoga. (Niyamas being the second of eight limbs and encompassing habits and contracts one makes with oneself.)


Explore the practice of svadhaya (self-study) by joining us for the 3rd installment of our Many Paths Book Club, April 8th at 8 Limbs Wedgwood. Many Path events are always free. Click here for more details.

Day 26 – Sound

Although we’ve been presenting the koshas in a primarily sequential manner throughout the month, attending to our five koshas is not always a linear path.

8 Limbs Teacher Megan Sloan illustrates this point in her piece below. In addition to teaching asana classes, Megan regularly holds Sound Baths at 8 Limbs. This morning we hear again from Megan as she shares the way sound can both heal our pranamaya (second, energy body) kosha and help us to access our anandamaya (fifth, bliss body) kosha. As a special treat, Megan also shares an excerpt from a sound bath, along with guided instructions, for practicing on your own with sound. Continue reading to both learn and hear more.

We also encourage you to think about the ways you’re able to access your anandamaya kosha, your bliss body. Feel free to share your inspirations in our Facebook group!

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff

HOW SOUND HEALS with Megan Sloan

The first time I heard a crystal singing bowl it was as if something in my body woke saying, “I want more of that!” On some level my whole being could sense the healing powers of the sound. At the time I didn’t know what part of me was responding but thankfully I listened! As I continued my studies of the subtle body and the koshas, I found in them an answer to where that response in me had arisen.

The five koshas, or sheaths, of our subtle body are described in the Taittiriya Upanishad. These sheaths begin on a physical level with the first kosha, but the remaining four are comprised of energy that grows subtler as one travels inward to each subsequent sheath. In this text, the second kosha, the pranamaya kosha is described as:

“Inside this [first kosha] is another body made of life energy. It fills the physical body and takes its shape. Those who treat this vital force as divine experience excellent health and longevity because this energy is the source of physical life.”

The pranamaya kosha is the energetic blueprint of our body. Prana (as we call it in yoga) or Chi (as we call it in Chinese medicine) drives the functioning of this kosha that rules our digestion, circulation and elimination. Prana is called the “life force” for a reason. Without the pranamaya kosha the physical body would no longer live: the heart would stop beating and the lungs would cease to move. Keeping this kosha healthy is therefore very important for our health and longevity.

Luckily for us, we have many pathways to access the pranamaya kosha. Pranayama is a whole school of practice developed in the yogic tradition to access this kosha, but what my body was telling me on that day that I heard the crystal singing bowls was that the pranamaya kosha responds to the resonance of sound.

Think about when a song you love comes on, or when you are walking in the woods and hear the wind in the trees. There is often a reaction we feel in our bodies, a flutter in the stomach, a deep sigh or a tingling sensation. This is a sign that the pranamaya kosha is being activated.

But why sound? Imagine an orchestra warming up before a performance. There is a cacophony of noise that sounds chaotic and unsettling. Yet when the orchestra begins to play the chaos becomes ordered and we find that we drop into a sense of relaxation as the music weaves together the notes in an ordered fashion, and our body responds to that harmony. We are like giant tuning forks and whatever we expose ourselves to, our pranamaya kosha begins to come into resonance with. The sound waves, like energy waves, bring us into vibration with whatever sound we are hearing. This is why nice music is calming and the sound of jack-hammers can be so jarring. Our energetic body is vibrating with both.

Our practice then becomes, just as the Taittiriya Upanishad teaches, to treat the pranamaya kosha as divine. If we were to treat it as divine, would we offer up the sounds of construction and raised voices? Or would we try to find sounds that were soothing and pleasing to honor its divinity? Create opportunities to bring yourself into resonance with sounds that bring you peace, joy and relaxation.

In the experience of a sound bath, we experience sounds that are often otherworldly, that can bring us into a vibration beyond our “normal” experience. As we take this pathway to treating the pranamaya kosha as divine through bathing it in sound, we open up to our potential to tap into the anandamaya kosha, our fifth sheath. This kosha is often known as our “bliss body” and is our access point for connecting into something larger than our own selves.

As our bodies begin to vibrate with the sound of crystal singing bowls, there can be a sense of the boundaries of our own bodies dissolving. This dissolution is a touching point for understanding the absolute experience of the anandamaya kosha which can ultimately bring us into union with divine. We lose our selves in the bliss of connection with something much bigger than our own beings.

For most, a sustained experience of the anandamaya kosha comes after years, and lifetimes, of focused practice, but for now touching in sound can give us a sneak peek of what may be in store as we continue down the road of yoga and self-exploration.


Here is a practice to activate the pranamaya and anandamaya koshas through sound (please use the provided recording):

  • Find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed and close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention from your outer surroundings inward, and begin to focus on your breath. Remember the breath is a key access point for the pranamaya kosha.
  • Now bring your attention deeper. Can you observe the expansion and contraction of the lungs? The beat of the heart? The movement of the blood through the veins? Allow your attention to rest on these subtler movements.
  • Turn on the recording and listen. Bring your attention back to the breath if the mind wanders.
  • Once the recording ends, take a few deep breaths and observe.
  • Notice what you feel physically, emotionally and how your energy feels.

Anandamaya Kosha means “the dimension of bliss.” This sheath refers to our ability to link or connect to some source greater than us, whatever we might call it—God, Universal Consciousness, Spirit.

Join Megan as she transports you to the anandamaya kosha, the bliss body, through sound. Let your body, mind, and spirit relax into the vibrational forces of crystal singing bowls, metal Tibetan bowls, chimes, and more. Click here to learn more about her upcoming workshop March 4th at 8 Limbs Wedgwood.

Day 25 – Service

Continuing our examination of the fifth kosha, this morning we turn our attention to service. Like devotion, service is a path to grow and express our anandamaya kosha. And for this we invited 8 Limbs Operations Manager and Teacher Lauren Kite to chime in.

Lauren had shared with some of us behind the scenes at 8 Limbs her recent commitment to putting service front and center in her practice. We were so inspired that we asked Lauren to share her actions, along with the story behind them, as they relate to the fifth kosha. Continue reading below to learn more!

What role does service play in your life? Or, what role would you like service to play in your practice? We invite you to share your ideas on our Facebook group.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


If we take a quick look through the Internet or peruse sacred texts for a working definition of Anandamaya Kosha, we find statements like, “the bliss body,” “the innermost sheath,” “the Soul,” “the aspect of ourselves that straddles and is both finite and infinite” etcetera.

I didn’t start practicing yoga in order to “get to” this bliss body. What drove me, and continues to drive me, is a quest for awareness. Yoga gives me, at life’s every curve ball, a way to emerge on the other side knowing myself, my surroundings, and how we all came to be here, a little bit better. Out of this awareness, one thing I learned is that while much of my journey is autonomous, I am not alone.

As I began to bring more intention to embedding this awareness, that I am not alone, into all aspects of my practice, I came to appreciate that none of us are truly alone. As I studied, for example, the Niyamas (the second limb of Patanjali’s eight-fold path and commonly understood as personal habits or self-covenants) my awareness grew to more readily include the impact of my own habits on others and my surroundings. The fifth Niyama, ishvara pranidhana, for instance, speaks to surrendering to something higher. From a yogic perspective, it is through such surrendering that any separation between ourselves and what is higher and others begins to dissolve. Essentially, I began to understand that when I act truly in my own best interest, I naturally act in such a way that is also in accordance with what is best for the Whole.

How has this played out in my daily life? Recently, most prominently in the realms of racial and cultural injustice. First, I made a commitment to further educate myself by reading and taking trainings on undoing institutional racism so that I can better help identify subtle ways in which this violence/privilege plays out around me and my participation in it. Second, I am volunteering my time with refugee women and children around after-school programs, helping them fill out citizenship paperwork and get connected with social service resources in the area. Third, I wrote a letter to all my family (which is LARGE) this past holiday season to say that I wasn’t participating in gifting in the traditional sense, but rather provided links to a nonprofit for folks to make contributions in either goods form or monetarily to support the transition of refugees into their new homes. And all three of these service actions contribute to my experience of being a part of something bigger than myself.

Essentially, my yoga practice has given me the tools to meet my own fears, my own limiting beliefs about myself, and the stories I’ve concocted and been given through ancestry and culturally dominant narratives. My self-study practice (in Sanskrit known as svadhyaya), done with awareness that my actions matter, has given me is a greater sense of feeling a part of a whole that is much greater than each of the individual parts. What I’ve come to understand thus far is that by going into deeper states of surrendering I am tapping more deeply into my “bliss” capacity and contributing to my community. Yoga and service mutually support one another. By electing to contribute to my community, I feel more deeply connected, more bliss.

You can help the world, you, you, you, you, and you- all of you- can help the world.”
– Chogyam Trongpa Rinpoche


Anandamaya Kosha means “the dimension of bliss.” This sheath refers to our ability to link or connect to some source greater than us, whatever we might call it––God, Universal Consciousness, Spirit.


If you would like to learn more about the power of service, Lauren recommends an easy-to-access article from The Atlantic, “The Physiological Power of Altruism.” This article shares a long-term study that closely examines how when we volunteer – not to escape our problems, but because we feel moved by something we’re passionate about – we live longer, healthier, more joyful lives. Click here to read.


In many ways Lauren has grown up at 8 Limbs. She began as a student and has held numerous admin support roles. These include Yoga Advisor, Studio Manager and her present position as Operations Manager. Lauren is also a graduate of the 8 Limbs Teacher Training program and teaches at our Capitol Hill and Phinney Ridge studios. To learn more about Lauren and her teaching schedule click here.

Day 24 – Prayer Poem

24 days in we wanted to share a sweet, little poem by artist Hannah Burr, from her book Contemporary Prayers to [Whatever Works].

Thank you,
For your careful attention to detail in my
Life. For what you’re
quietly making possible
within it.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff

Anandamaya Kosha means “the dimension of bliss.” This sheath refers to our ability to link or connect to some source greater than us, whatever we might call it––God, Universal Consciousness, Spirit.

Kirtan is a form of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. Kirtan is the singing of ancient Sanskrit chants and mantras in a group setting.

Join Melissa & Rob Lundsgaard March 12th, 8:00-9:30pm, 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge. Visit this link for more details.

Day 23 – Devotion

Devotion, committing to something higher than oneself, lies at the heart of the fifth kosha. The concept of devotion also lies at the heart 8 Limbs Teacher Terilyn Wyre’s practice. Continue reading below for Terilyn’s insightful perspective on devotion. Further below, Terilyn shares one of her favorite practices, a rather simple practice that centers on forgiveness that she finds quite helpful in strengthening one’s capacity to be devoted.

In the words of Terilyn, we also invite you to ask yourself on the 23rd day of your commitment, what are you devoted to? We welcome your thoughts and inspirations in our Facebook group.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


Devotion is commitment gone mad. It is mad in the sense that you have to leave the order of your mind to enter into the wildness of your heart.
Devoted people are literally seized by love.
To live devoted means to lie in the lap of the Divine
– Richard Rudd

What are you devoted to? Who are you devoted to? How does your devotion help you to navigate your path in this crazy world? These are questions I ask myself and my community on a regular basis. My answer has always been the same for as far back as I can remember. I believe the 9 year old Terilyn, navigating her first year as an outcast at a new school would answer the same as the 42 year old Terilyn going through the hardest year of her life with divorce and family tragedy: Love.

I am utterly and without question devoted to Love. Does this mean I am a happy-go-lucky ball of sunshine all the time? Absolutely not! In fact, I am often quite the opposite; ready to weep with outrage for the inequality and injustice in our world. But what it does mean is I have found a truth greater than my fear and anger, greater than my grief and despair to yoke myself to in times of struggle: the power of my spirit to Love.

Simply put, the act of yoking myself to this truth is a form of devotion.

Love begins with love of self and in my experience, self-love is a practice and often not an easy one. We live in a culture that profits greatly on our insecurities and lack of self-love and we are constantly bombarded with images of what we “need to become in order to be worthy of love”.  So being devoted to the practice of self-love is a radical act. Wanna start a revolution? Truly embrace your shadow and your perceived flaws, forgive yourself and let that be your pathway to loving yourself. If we can devote ourselves to that practice daily then perhaps we can truly forgive and love others. If we were able to embody this and teach it to our children, how revolutionary would that be?

There are many ways to cultivate devotion daily. Our yoga practice is one great way, moving in time with the rhythm of our breath, devoting ourselves to the self-inquiry that arises with our practice. Another fantastic way is through singing and chanting. Bhakti yoga translates to yoga of devotion. Often in a Bhakti yoga class you will sing/chant throughout the asana practice or at some point in the class and let me tell you that is a very direct pathway to opening up your heart and recognizing yourself as a being of Love! When you’re in a room full of 50 other yogis all doing the same, well there’s nothing quite like it. In that moment you know we can change the world through our devotion to Love, there are no feelings of doubt that can trump that energy! I have the absolute pleasure of leading a Bhakti class every Sunday morning at 8 Limbs West Seattle that we lovingly call “yoga church” and it sets the tone for my week. I am in awe of the community we have created with that class and I feel so very blessed.

Another way I cultivate devotion is through the art of storytelling. I love mythology and breaking down the meanings within the stories. I find every time I retell a story I drop a little deeper into what each character represents. My favorite yoga teacher and storyteller is Sianna Sherman and she taught me to remember that we are every character in the story; the ones we most love and wish to emulate and the ones we find most repulsive. For when we open our minds up to being every character, a whole depth of understanding of both our ego and our highest self unfolds. She has a storytelling CD set of Hindu myths I find great inspiration in. A wonderful book on the Hindu Goddesses and modern day archetypes is Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton. I find the more I read, listen to and retell these ancient myths, the more I discover that when you strip all the layers of the human experience down to the core, it always comes back to Love, pure and simple. This then reignites my feelings of devotion.


I would like to offer you a simple yet profound practice of forgiveness and love. I have found doing versions of this practice to be an easy way of shifting my perspective back to one of daily devotion. It is a mantra practice/prayer from the Hawaiian tradition called Ho’oponopono. It can be done in as little as a few minutes or as long as time allows. I find devoting myself to a few minutes of practice every day is more beneficial than a longer period of time more infrequently.

Allow yourself to be comfortable, you can do this practice seated on cushions with your back supported by a wall or even lying on the floor with knees bent and feet flat to the earth. Bring your left hand to your heart and your right hand to your navel. Notice the subtle rise and fall of your belly and rise and fall of your chest with your natural, effortless breath. Tune into the power you have to forgive and to love and trust that this power will heal you. Begin repeating to yourself:

I am sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

Say these words to the wounded part of yourself until you feel a sense of calmness and peace. It is not uncommon to cry and feel strong emotions arise during this practice. If that happens try and stay with the discomfort of your emotions until they pass. They will pass.

Then when you feel ready visualize someone you love very much seated in front of you. Picture gazing into their eyes and really allowing yourself to be seen and really seeing them and repeat the same words:

I am sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

And then imagine your loved one saying it back to you. Feel the waves of healing through love and forgiveness wash over you.

Then imagine someone past or present that you have had conflict with. Picture them seated in front of you. Really allow yourself to see them and be seen and repeat those words:

I am sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

And hear this person say it back to you. This is a profound practice and can really shift the dynamic and allow great healing in even the most difficult situations. Stay with any feelings that arise until you feel a sense of calmness and peace. This, like anything gets easier with practice and I have found it to be relevant even when I don’t have prevalent feelings of discord with anyone. It still helps to peel away the layers of my ego and my shadow and reveal that authentic being of Love that I am.

I gladly step again and again out of the order of my mind and into the sweet wildness of my heart. What, my friends, are you devoted to?

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” – Jon Acuff


Anandamaya Kosha means “the dimension of bliss.” This sheath refers to our ability to link or connect to some source greater than us, whatever we might call it––God, Universal Consciousness, Spirit.


Terilyn sees yoga as a way to express her spirituality, joy and liberation through movement. Many of her classes have a strong Bhakti influence. In addition to teaching yoga at our Capitol Hill, Phinney Ridge and West Seattle studios, Terilyn is a massage therapist. To learn more about Terilyn and her teaching schedule click here.

Day 22 – Fifth Kosha

As the end of our sustained practice is in sight, we now put our focus on the fifth and final kosha, known as anandamaya kosha. Anandamaya kosha means “the dimension of bliss.” This sheath refers to our ability to link or connect to some source greater than us, whatever we might call it–­­God, Universal Consciousness, Spirit. Any ritual or activity that brings you a feeling of connection and joy is a practice that supports your anandamaya kosha. Service, kirtan, prayer and dance are just some of the ways you might cultivate and honor your anandamaya kosha.

We will be fostering our collective anandamaya kosha at our final celebration (February 28th, 8 Limbs Capitol Hill, 7:45-8:45pm). And over the next few days we’ll be highlighting practices that center on this fifth kosha. For now, we share with you a few words from Hafiz.

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious—
So kiss me.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff

The chakras are a key part of pranamaya kosha (the energetic body). Through this guided practice of asana (connecting to annamaya kosha), breath work (tapping into pranamaya kosha), and meditation (taking us deeper to manamaya kosha) you’ll come to experience the 4th chakra, the heart center, in a new way.

February 27th with Megan. Mention you are part of the 28 Day program to receive a 20% discount. Click here for more details.

Tomorrow night join Marni and fellow 28 Day practitioners for an All Levels Class at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge, 7:30-8:45 pm.

Our final dedicated class will be held 2/28 from 6:30-7:45pm at Capitol Hill. This last class will be led by Michelle and focus on Restoratives. (Community Celebration immediately following.)

Day 21 – Compassionate Speech

Being aggressive, you can accomplish some things,
but with gentleness, you can accomplish all things
– Buddhist Master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

As we continue our exploration of the vijnanamaya kosha, we turn to an area that comes up for most of us just about every day––communication. The fourth kosha relates to our individual character or personality, our conditioned mind. Noticing the way we talk, listen and engage with others can be an excellent way to get a read on the current state of our conditioned mind. Working to be more mindful in our communication can be a wonderful way to strengthen our fourth kosha.

To help us see what that might look like we called upon 8 Limbs Executive Director Ashley Dahl. Ashley has a particular interest in what she describes as compassionate speech. Continue reading to learn more, including several simple practices for growing our individual capacity for compassionate speech.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


Will it further connection? Will it further understanding?

These were two questions I was repeatedly asked to consider this past summer while on a meditation retreat in the New Mexico high desert. The focus of the retreat was on compassionate speech. Along with about 20 other people from around the country I was learning about a model of speech known as “Nonviolent Communication” and what happens when one merges this model with a mindfulness practice.

“Nonviolent Communication” was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., a man committed to social justice and peace. Rosenberg bases his definition of violence on Mahatma Gandhi’s work, one that recognizes both “physical” and “passive” types of violence, the latter being emotional violence and often considered more destructive as it fuels the former. “Nonviolence,” as Gandhi’s son Arun Gandhi puts it, “means allowing the positive within you to emerge.” Rosenberg recognized the enormous and positive impact of allowing the positive within us to emerge in our communication for individuals, groups of people and society as a whole. As such, he began to explore what it would take to embrace communication as a way to further connection and understanding, thereby reducing violence in the world. He recognized that when we allow the positive within us to emerge, expressing itself through our words, even in difficult interactions we can further both connection and understanding.

While on this retreat, mindfulness was a tool we kept turning to as a way to foster this notion of nonviolence. Mindfulness, as described by the folks at Greater Good, is about “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. [It] also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.” By cultivating mindfulness we were able to practice holding difficult emotions in our awareness and in doing so find openings for offering compassion (allowing the positive within us to emerge).

Oftentimes we found ourselves needing to first offer ourselves compassion when considering a particularly painful situation. Otherwise we might have felt too vulnerable or angry to be available for, or even interested in, being kind to others. We discovered that once we had tended to our own needs and hurts we could begin to consider the vulnerabilities, needs and desires of others. Through this process we found both our words and tone of voice softening. We found ourselves, sometimes surprisingly, being able to genuinely want to understand the perspective of a person whom we just experienced as hurtful. This was not a process of proving one was right or another was wrong. It was about making space to see ourselves and others, however we had behaved or spoken, as all being part of a common tender-hearted humanity.

As I further digested these teachings I’ve personally come to appreciate how this mingling of Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness is quite a potent way to nurture and grow my fourth, vijnanamaya, kosha. The fourth kosha relates to the meaning we make of what comes our way. This includes communication. It’s about committing to our inner wisdom so that we respond rather than react to ourselves and the world around us. When I bring care and attention to how I process hurtful or aggressive words spoken to me, for example, rather than feed (and thereby propagate) this violence, I can soften and dissolve the violence. I can create space for connection and understanding. I’ve come to understand that my “inner wisdom” is actually an inner positivity or goodness that is always available if I make the room for it. It is a wisdom typically eager to emerge, in fact, if I make it safe to do so.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite practices from this retreat. These are practices that, over time, can help increasingly create safe space for our inner wisdom, our vijnanamaya koshas, to shine forth, furthering connections and understanding as we go.


The following practices were developed and shared with me by my retreat teachers Donald Rothberg and Oren J. Sofer as a way for increasing mindful speech in daily life. I often select 2-3 of these practices to focus on for a week or a month and then check-in with myself, reflecting on insights or shifts.

Relating to Presence

  • Daily mindfulness practice of 20-30 minutes
  • Daily grounding of your body through activities such as yoga, walking or other movement practices.
  • Practice maintaining some level of both inner and outer awareness while speaking with others.

Relating to Intention

  • Create a daily intention to practice with an ethical guideline such as truthfulness, helpfulness, kindness, appropriateness (includes good timing).
  • Daily Loving Kindness (also known as Metta) practice 10 or more minutes a day.
  • Focus a sense of, “What matters?” for oneself and others in conversations.

Relating to Attention

  • Experiment with distinguishing what is observable from interpretations.
  • Explore focusing attention on the deeper needs behind people’s words and actions.
  • Make requests that facilitate connections by asking for what you’re looking for. This might mean asking for a response, asking for a reflection or asking for an indication that you are understood.

Relating to General Speech

  • Spend a day or a week listening and speaking from your heart.
  • Notice your own reactivity, internally and in speech.
  • Explore your own reactivity within a mindfulness practice.


This sheath relates to our individual character or personality––your conditioned mind––and how it interprets and exists within the sensory world that is intercepted by the Manomaya Kosha.

As Executive Director for 8 Limbs, Ashley looks for ways to deepen our mission and sense of community through both what we offer and how we do business. She enjoys bringing mindfulness practices off the cushion and into daily life and oversees our mission programs such as this 28 Day Commitment and the Many Paths Book Club. Click here to learn more.


If you are interested in learning more about Nonviolent Communication and compassionate speech, Ashley recommends the following books:

Nonviolent Communication: A Language for Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu

The Engaged Spiritual Life by Donald Rothberg


Day 20 – Secular Sabbaths

As we’ve been talking about, providing opportunities of respite like deep relaxation and sleep for our senses (pratyahara) and making room for our physical, emotional and energetic bodies to fully digest our experiences is key to nurturing our fourth kosha. Another way to attune to and nourish this kosha is through a long-standing tradition that is making a comeback in our modern world – taking Sabbaths.

The word Sabbath traditionally refers to a day for rest and devotion. While Sabbaths have long been associated with religious and spiritual practices, they need not be relegated to strictly religious arenas. What yoga has long known, and science is catching up on, is that we greatly benefit in our secular and non-secular lives alike from adopting some type of Sabbath practice.

From a yogic and kosha perspective, rest, as we’ve been talking about, supports our fourth kosha. Devotion, as we will get into later this month, directly tends to our fifth kosha. Scientists like Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and mindfulness teacher, are finding that periods of rest improve mental clarity, patience, resilience and the ability to care for others.

Below you’ll find recommended reading and listening for exploring a Sabbath practice. Tracy and Ashley will also explore this topic in their I ♥ Savasana workshop. We’d love to hear about your own tips and rituals relating to taking time to rest; please share in our Facebook group!

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


How To Relax by Thich Nhat Hahn

The Art of Stillness Ted Talk

NYT Times article Bring Back the Sabbath


This sheath relates to our individual character or personality––your conditioned mind––and how it interprets and exists within the sensory world that is intercepted by the Manomaya Kosha.


If someone asks you what yoga is, you can tell them it is a way for human beings to remember how to feel if something is true.” – Rolf Gates from his book Meditations on Being.

Day 19 – Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to habits and practices conducive to consistently sleeping well. Visiting 8 Limbs Teacher Rod Stryker has referred to the notion of sleep hygiene as “foreplay for sleep.” What he was conveying with this provocative terminology was three-fold. For starters, it got our attention. With insomnia and other sleep disorders being at an epidemic level in our country, sleep hygiene clearly deserves more awareness.

Secondly, much like the meaning of the word foreplay, Rod was helping us to understand that great sleep isn’t something we can do often, or do consistently, on a dime. Great sleep is enhanced by a transition period, a building up of restful conditions.

Finally, Rod, in talking about sleep in a yoga workshop, was making the connection between sleep and relaxation with yoga. He recognizes that our presence and vitality within an asana, pranayama or meditation practice depends on giving our bodies sufficient opportunities to sleep and relax.

With respect to the koshas, Rod was also talking about the importance of tending to our fourth or vijnamamaya kosha, the kosha that relates to how we process that which comes into us through our sensory world. Sleep, in this context, serves the function of digesting and detoxifying our daily experiences. Much like our digestive system with food, if we don’t fully process what our senses take in, we can get backed up, sluggish and tired.

8 Limbs offers a number of opportunities for tending to our fourth kosha through deep relaxation. These include the Sound Baths and classes with a Yoga Nidra component mentioned on Day 4 and the upcoming I ♥ Savasana workshop. Below you’ll also find some of our favorite resources for great sleep hygiene and Rod Stryker’s recipe for “Deep Sleep Tonic.”

Do you have any favorite nighttime rituals? Ways to wind down for the day? Please share on our Facebook group.

8 Limbs Teachers & Staff


Falling in Love with Sleep with Rubin Naiman podcast

Yoga Nidra – The Sleep Yoga podcast with Richard Miller

Relax into Greatness by Rod Stryker CD (available at 8 Limbs boutiques)


(A recipe shared by Rod Stryker and adapted from Food: A Love Story)

10 almonds, soaked (8 hours)*

1 C whole milk (dairy, almond or rice)

2 t ghee

4-5 dates, preferably medjool

8 black peppercorns

½ t each of cardamom, cinnamon

Pinch each of cumin, turmeric, nutmeg

Liquefy all ingredients in a blender until you reach a smooth consistency. Pour into a pot on the stove and bring to a very gentle boil. Stir and serve. (For a dessert version, stir in 1 C yogurt after removing mixture from heat and drizzle with maple syrup.) Makes 2 servings.

* As an alternative to soaking, you can blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water, then remove and discard skins.


This sheath relates to our individual character or personality––your conditioned mind––and how it interprets and exists within the sensory world that is intercepted by the Manomaya Kosha.