Yoga, which originated in India thousands of years ago, is quite popular worldwide. However, Yoga is not just about doing a handful of Asanas, but is a whole concept of living a fulfilled life by following guidelines that consist of 8 stages.
It is written in Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and is called Ashthanga, meaning the eight limbs. These 8 limbs follow the structure of Yoga which are as follows,
1. Yama (Morals)
Flickr | Khanthachai Chaitrakulpiboon
Yama, in plain English, are the morals of living a life, or can be called a set of rules to live. these are,
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (Truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (control)
- Aparigraha (non-covetousness)
2. Niyama (Discipline)
Flickr | Balint Földesi
Niyama deals with self-discipline, a set of rules or laws similar to Yama but are on a personal level. These are,
- Saucha (Purity)
- Santosa (Being Content)
- Tapas (Cleansing of Body and Keeping it fit)
- Scadhyaya (Self-Study)
- Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to God)
3. Asana (Physical Posture)
Flickr | Matthew Ragan
Asana is the most comment aspect of Yoga, which is doing physical postures to achieve a level of flexibility in the body. Other benefits are improved health, strength and balance.
4. Pranayama (Breath Control)
Flickr | adifansnet
It is the fourth limb of yoga which is used to taking control of the breath. The simple activity of breathing in and breathing out can help you relax.
There are different patterns of breathing which is observed along with Asana. Pranayama and Asana, when performed together, have great health benefits.
5. Pratyahara (Control of the Senses)
Flickr | Hernán Piñera
Pratyahara is the fifth limb of Yoga, which means withdrawal. In simple words, it helps us take a look at ourself and observe our habits, cravings which in turn helps us learn more about yourself to do better.
6. Dharana (Concentration of mind)
Flickr | Blanca
Dharana teaches us to focus on a particular thing and to minimize the distraction around us. It is a practice which helps the mind of think or focus on a particular thing dumping all other things from the mind.
7. Dhyana (Meditation)
Flickr | Balint Földesi
After Dharana, that is, concentration in one direction, the mind reaches to a point where no thought crosses the mind and you are fully focused on one particular thing, it is a stage which is tough to reach and can only be achieved with practice.
8. Samadhi (Union with the Devine)
Flickr | Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Samadhi is the eighth and final stage of Yoga. It is the point when the mind and body are in complete sync with each other and surroundings do not matter anymore. It is just you and the divine. It is also a state which is very tough to achieve, and is only possible with a lot of practice, not just by doing Asana and Pranayama for a day or two.