Understanding the Eight Limbs of Yoga

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People limit yoga as a set of physical exercises, but it is not at all true. Yoga in one line is known as the holistic approach to life by connecting your mind, body, and soul. Yoga shows a person the perfect way to live their life in a healthy and happiest way. There are eight limbs of yoga that were described by the 200 hour yoga teacher training in rishikesh. These limbs serve as the blueprint for self-realization and spiritual growth.

The are 8 limbs of yoga that offer a factual framework for self-realization and spiritual growth. Through the practices of Nityamas and Yama in our day-to-day life, cultivation of the power of breath in Pranayama, building physical strength and flexibility through Yoga Asanas, and getting the ultimate stage of concentration by meditation, one can accomplish the goal of practicing yoga. One can easily attain the Samadhi by following these limbs of yoga. Irrespective of your level of yoga learning, you can bring transformation and peace in your life that helps in maintaining harmony and balance.

Yama (Restraints)

Yama or restraints is the first limb of yoga that includes ethical guidelines and moral principles. Yama is important for a yogi to communicate with the world. Apart from physical postures or exercises, yoga includes a deep learning of philosophy that helps the yogi in their spiritual and ethical growth. The set of moral yogic principles, Yama is basically a foundation for a balanced and harmonious life. Exploring the practical application and significance of Yamas is important. There are majorly five types of Yamas. They are:

Ahimsa or Non-violence – Ahimsa or the path of non-violence helps in building love, kindness, and humanity towards other living beings. This is not limited to action, but kind words and thoughts are also part of Ahimsa.

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Satya or Truthfulness – Satya depicts integrity and honesty in our actions and communication that helps in building trust and promises in life and relations.

Asteya or Non-stealing – Asetya means respecting the possession and property of other persons. This makes you to refrain from the theft.

Brahmacharya or Moderation –  Brahmacharya means the balanced and proper use of the energy of a human being that promotes self-control and controls sexual energy.

Aparigraha or Non-possessiveness – Aparigraha includes detachment from desires and a materialistic world. This will help in bringing inner freedom and contentment.

Niyama (Observances)

The second limb of yoga, Niyama includes practices and personal observances that promote inner growth and discipline. Niyamas in yoga are the set of guiding principles that help in keeping your life in a disciplined manner. It nurtures spiritual growth and inner transformation. Included in the Ptanjali’s Yoga Sutras’s ancient yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, Niyamas are the practical insights to foster el-awareness, contentment, and harmony in the life of a yogi. Without Niyama, one cannot live the life of a yogi.

This offers a road to spiritual realization, inner peace, and self-discovery. By including the principles of the five types of Niyamas in daily life, we expect to awaken our consciousness which is an important part of attaining the state of self-discovery. Moreover following these Niyamas, one can live a life filled with alignment, authenticity, and fulfillment with our utmost potential. Also, one can awaken their divinity and wisdom by integrating Niyamas into their daily life. There are five types of Niyamas.

Saucha or Purity –  Saucha includes maintaining the internal and external purity and cleanliness of a human being.

Santosha or Contentment – Santosha is the feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction with what we are having rather than seeking external possessions and validations.

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Tapas or Discipline – Tapas refers to austerity and self-discipline that help in overcoming obstacles that help in achieving personal goals.

Svadhyaya or Self-study –  Svadhyaya is the study of various texts that help the process of introspection and self-reflection to achieve a profound understanding of the universe and oneness.

Ishvara Pranidhana or Surrender to the Divine – The practice of surrendering your ego and attitude to the ultimate power so that you can connect yourself with the universe in a much-dedicated way.

Asana or Physical Postures

The science of yoga is incomplete without Yoga Asana or Physical postures. Yoga Asanas are the foundation of yoga. In the West, the third limb of yoga, Yoga Asana is a well-known aspect. It involves practicing the sets of physical postures that help in developing balance, flexibility, and strength in the body. The true purpose of Yoga Asana is to make you physically fit and ready for the utmost state of meditation or Sadhna.

It includes a holistic approach to physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being. Yoga Asana involves self-exploration, breath awareness, strength to body, and mindful movement that can unlock the true potential of the human being. It is a well-known fact that a healthy body results in a healthy mind and energetic soul.

Pranayama or Breath Control

The fourth limb of yoga, Pranayama involves the regulation and control of breath. Yogis learn to use the power of breath through various techniques of breathing that in turn result in increasing vitality, balancing the energy of the body, and most importantly calming the mind. The practices of Pranayama vary from simple breathing exercises to advanced-level breathing techniques that include breath retention and alternate nostril breathing.

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This is a profound breathing exercise that results in mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. The daily practice of Pranayam can help in balancing the nervous system, relaxation, stimulate the energy flow inside the body, and enhance the respiratory function by cultivating mindfulness. The comprehensive practice of Pranayama helps in developing a sense of self-realization, inner peace, and enhanced vitality.

Pratyahara or Sense of Withdrawal

The fifth limb of yoga, Pratyahara involves withdrawing senses or taking back steps from external stimuli. In the process of disengaging from the materialistic world, it is easier to maintain concentration and greater awareness. This in turn helps in achieving the utmost state of meditation. This is a foundational practice of yoga that helps in creating a path for concentration, self-realization, samadhi, and inner awareness.

Dharana or Concentration

The sixth limb of yoga, Dharana is maintaining the single point focus or concentration. Through various techniques such as focusing on an image, candle, or mantra an individual can create focus and stillness in the mind. This is very useful in keeping you away from distractions. This prominent practice of focusing on yoga helps in maintaining self-awareness and mental clarity which helps in developing stability and mental discipline.

Dhyana or Meditation

The seventh limb of yoga, Dhyana is the practice of building concentration to provide relaxation to mind, body, and soul. Dhyana is basically the process of connecting your soul with the ultimate power of the world. This will help in building a profound sense of clarity, oneness, and inner peace. This foundational practice of yoga offers the path to self-awareness and self-exploration.

Samadhi or Union

The final or eighth limb of yoga is Samadhi which is referred to as the state of union and complete absorption with the divine power. This is the utmost state where your soul connects with God. It helps in experiencing the interconnectedness of human existence and the relation with god. This state is pure bliss by cultivating self-awareness, concentration, and mindfulness.

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