The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Yoga is a spiritual practice developed to create a union between the body, mind and spirit. Yoga is practiced in India for thousands of years, its philosophy being written down by Patanjali in The Yoga Sutra. This sacred text describes with very small details about the practice and effects on our body. The core of these teachings consists of The Eight Limbs of Yoga. These eight limbs form a path to a proper yoga practice.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are: YAMA or universal morality, NIYAMA or personal observance, ASANAS or postures, PRANAYAMA or breathing and controlling the prana, PRATYAHARA or control of our sense, DHARANA or inner perceptual awareness, DHYANA or devotion and meditation on the divine and SAMADHI or the union with the divine.
Yamas – also known as restraints and there are five of them. The five Yamas are: Ahimsa or non-violence, Satya or non-lying, Asteya or non-stealing, Brahmacharya or non-sensuality and Aparigraha or non-greed. It is up to every yogi how they apply these yamas into their daily life.
Niyamas – they are laso known as observances and there are also five of them. The five Niyamas are: Sauca or purity, Santosa or contentment, Tapas or a disciplined use of the prana, Svadhyaya or self inspection and Isvarapranidhana or celebration of the true self or spirit. These Nyiamas bring self-consciousness and a better knowing our true self.
Asanas – they are represented by the physical postures. Each one of the postures has its role and benefits. This one of The Eight Limbs of Yoga is the most popular. Many people think that yoga is only about postures, but that is not true. Postures are important, but only on the physical plan.
Pranayamas – they are breath exercises. But they don’t only teach you how to control your breath, but also the flow of energy in your body. The energy, life force or prana is flowing in our body by using channels, which can be opened or closed. These channels also connect the seven most important chakras.
Pratyahara – this sixth limb of yoga or the sixth aspect on your path is linked to the control of our sense or bringing our awareness inward. This practice helps you to shut down your physical senses and bring your awareness inside, to your true self.
Dharana – it is an important practice in controlling our mind and thoughts by increasing our inner perception. This practice can teach us to slow down our mind and to stop the flow of the thoughts. It is a deep focusing practice that helps us to control our own mind without letting it wander.
Dhyana – this one of The Eight Limbs of Yoga is known as the practice of meditation, contemplation or thinking about something tat you focused on in Dharana. With this practice you will learn to be in the present moment. You stop thinking about who you or your ego are, you just are or exist.
Samadhi – just as Dhyana is a continuation of Dharana, Samadhi is the continuation of Dhyana. It is the end of your meditation, when you become on with the thing your were meditating on. This step is also known as the practice of bringing together or uniting.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga or eight steps of yoga are very important for a proper yoga practice. You have to respect their order. You have to show morality to know yourself. Also, you have to really know your barriers in case to start the postures. You have know the postures, so you can control the prana. Therefore, you have to control your breathing or prana if you want to bring your awareness inward. You have to learn to focus if you want to be in the present moment. Ad, finally, you have to achieve existing in the present moment if you want to reunite with the divine withing yourself. This is why your have to respect the order of The Eight Limbs of Yoga. With awareness and daily practice, you can achieve enlightenment and deep awareness.