The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The practice of yoga asana’s is dedicated to creating a union between body and the mind and in doing so prepares the practitioner for a deepening of their meditation practice.  However Yoga cannot be summed-up by only identifying it as the well-known practicing of asana’s or poses that most people are familiar with.  Yoga is a distinct lifestyle and belief system of right living. This art of right living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago.  The foundations of yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali approximately 200 AD.  This text describes an eight-step process to control the inner workings of the mind and quiet it’s restlessness.

The core of The Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice.

The eight limbs or steps to yoga are as follows;

1.   Yama: Universal morality

2.   Niyama: Personal observances

3.   Asanas: Body postures

4.   Pranayama: Breathing exercises and control of prana

5.   Pratyahara: Control of the senses

6.   Dharana: Concentration and cultivating the inner perceptual awareness

7.   Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

8.   Samadhi: Union with the Divine

Learning and mastering these eight steps leads to the ultimate lifestyle change and is the path for achieving enlightenment. The practice of Yoga does not only deal with developing the body but also covers all the aspect of a person’s life as stated in the Eight Limbs of Yoga. It is concerned about the physical, mental and spiritual well being of an individual as well as his environment and relationship with other creatures. Real practice of these eight principles leads to deeper self-knowledge, love and respect towards other people and creatures, cleaner environment, healthy diet, and union with the Divine.