Originally, yoga practice focuses not only on physical improvement, but also spiritual. In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, the eight limbs of yoga are described. These are special guidances on how to live in harmony of the mind, body, spirit and the outer world in order to achieve enlightenment. This article will give you the basic understanding of the eight limbs of yoga.
Yama, or the way you behave
The five Yamas advocate non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-possessiveness.
Niyama, or attitude to yourself
There are five Niyamas: cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study of sacred texts and oneself, surrender to God.
Asana, or physical pose
Thorough asanas we free our mind and body from tension and stress. They relax, rejuvenate and give energy to the body in order to prepare it for meditation.
Pranayama, or breath control
Yogis regulate breath because they recognize the connection between breathing and state of mind, the nervous system and the level of life energy. It also improves your concentration skills.
Pratyahara, or withdrawal of senses
This is the process of diverting our awareness inside ourselves and away from the outer world. This practice allows us to look at ourselves from aside and achieve a higher level of spiritual development.
Dharana, or concentration
This is the state of focusing attention on a single point, without any distractions, which serves as a preparation for meditation.
Dhyana, or meditation
Meditation is the practice of constant, uninterrupted observation by the mind without a special focus. It is meant to increase one’s awareness and unify oneself with the universe.
Samadhi, or enlightenment
The ultimate, most coveted – and the hardest to achieve – goal of the eight limbs is the state of ecstasy coming from the feeling of unity with the universe. You experience infinite peace, harmony and awareness.