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Ashtanga - 8 limbs of Yoga

There is no better place to discover the wisdom of the body-mind connection than on our yoga mats. In here the physical postures or asanas we do cultivate strength, flexibility and vibrant health. Also, cultivate awareness of the psychological effects of the practice. However, yoga entails much more than stretching, twisting and balancing. Therefore, the goal pursued by the adept is the integral purification of his or her existence. This favors the emergence of spiritual light, thereby potentially achieving Divine Wisdom.

8 limbs of Yoga

The 8 limbs of Yoga in It`s Practice

To start, yoga is an art and science which purpose is to create union among body, mind and spirit. Along the history of yoga, many people perfected and practiced this art of a good way of living in India thousands of years ago. Then, Patanjali wrote the foundations of yoga philosophy down in The Yoga Sutras. In here, we can find the 8 limbs of yoga.

As a matter of fact, this sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and provides the 8 limbs of yoga. Therefore, the 8 limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga sutras are the core of a structural framework for yoga practice.

The First two Steps, Yama and Niyama

At the beginning, there are two important steps in the practice of yoga. So, they are Yama and Niyama.

Yama, the First Limb

The first limb of yoga is Yama. This step is related to the universal morality. So, it involves the controls that allow you to maintain a perfect relationship with others. Then, for this reason, there are some actions we need to practice to complete this step.

Actions inside Yama
1. Ahimsa - It implies non- violence, kindness and compassion for all living beings.
2. Satya - This is about prudence and honest communication in all its ways.
3. Asteya - It involves no stealing and, to develop the ability to resist the desire for what does not belong to us.
4. Brahmacarya - This is about moderation in all our acts, renunciation and celibacy.
5. Aparigraha - This step consists in stop avarice, cultivate the generosity and service to others.

Niyama, the Second Limb

Afterward, there comes Niyama. This is about personal observances. So, they are those controls that allow you a perfect relationship with your own inner world.

Actions inside Niyama
1. Sauca. It is related to hygiene in terms of psyco- physical cleanliness and the environment where you have to live. It also involves yogic purification practices.
2. Santosa. This is contenment of mind, serenity or the faculty to feel comfortable with what you own and what you do not possess.
3. Tapas. This action is about austerity, discipline and correct habits.
4. Svadhyaya. It is about personal and spiritual study, self- knowledge.
5. Isvarapranydhana. It means acceptance of your limits in front of God.

In summary, Yama and Niyama are interrelated. So, they are dependent. The line between each of them is very thin. So, we do not know exactly where one begins and where the other ends.

The Asanas, the Third Limb of Yoga

Subsequently, the third step of the yoga practice is related to Asanas. These are the body postures designed to help master the body and enhance its functions. As a result, these yoga exercises create strength and endurance. They improve circulation and energy flow, clean the organs and other systems, and expand muscles and joints.

When practicing Asana, we have to focuss in the present moment. So, it implies thinking on no goals, no future, and no analyzing. Then, we just observe how the physical self receives vitality and openness enabling the mind to explore clarity.

Pranayama, the Fourth Limb of Yoga

Thereafter, the fourth limb is Pranayama as one of the central practices of yoga. In fact, this is the science of control the vital energy through breathing exercises. Prana is a single sanskrit word that means “breath”, “life” and “cosmic energy”. Yama can be translated as “restriction”. Pranayama implies making conscious breathing to optimize life. So, thanks to Pranayama, we can conect our mind, body and spirit through yoga. When we are calm our breathing is rhythmic and deep. But when we are agitated or fearful, our breathing becomes fast and arrhythmic.

Pratyahara, the Fifth Limb of Yoga

Pratyahara is a process that describes the disconnection of consciousness from external stimuli. Once reached this isolation, the second step is the disconnection of psychic activity. The means to achieve this independence of internal and external stimuli is the practice of asanas and pranayama. The term pratyahara derived from two Sanskrit words “prati” and “ahara”. So that, Prati is a preposition which translates as “against”. Meanwhile “Ahara” translates as “food”, or “what we put in us”.

The 4 Steps to Pratyahara

This limbs consist of 4 steps. First, Indriya Pratyahara that resides in the need to abstract from our 5 senses. Second, Prana Pratyahara which is present in learning how to control the Prana. Third, Karma Pratyahara (or Karma Yoga) that is present in acting with humanity without expectation of a reward. The last one is Mano Pratyahara that lies in abandonment of the mind, internalizing thoughts consciousness in a space of silence and relaxation.

Dharana, the Sixth Limb of Yoga

Dharana consists in holding Divine Spirit consciousness during the concentration. So, the one who studies yoga must keep on his or her mind the five forms of the elements in their respective centers of the body. Then, he or she mus be practice Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara.

Dhyana, the Seventh Stage

The word “Dhyana” means meditation. It is the combination of the fifth and sixth stages of the branches of Ashtanga yoga. It causes a state of deep meditation where there is no thought.

When practicing Asana, student’s pranic energy flows during the sequence of positions from start to finish. So, the thread of breathing remains unchanged. And each posture joins the next, forming a garland of asanas to become moving in meditation.

Samadhi, the Last Limb of Yoga

This step is the highest espiritual level. So, due to the consciousness of the practitioner becomes capable of contact with the Divine Consciousness in the upper strata. In order to reach this state in a normal way, we must go through the 8 limbs yoga.

Moreover, all the three states of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi constitute the “Samyama”. So, this is when the mind focuses on an object and is able to stay so focused for a long time. Also, is able to scrutinize the inner meaning of the object that remains concentrated, regardless of their external perception.

When we recover our real nature and the long-awaited inner freedom, we reach Samadhi. In addition, Samadhi is essential since it is a path towards the “final liberation” and the person who attains the supreme goal is a “living liberated”. This is because he or she has put an end to ignorance, greed, hatred and fear.

Concluding, the success of the practice of yoga depends only on the scrupulous observance of the 8 limbs of Yoga. So, this art is a way of getting moderation in your live in order to be happy and grateful in life. Finally, if you liked this post, please shared it on your social networks. Also, if you have any questions, please write in the comment section below.

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