The practice of yoga is an art and science dedicated to creating a union between body, mind, and spirit. Its objective is to assist the practitioner in using the breath and body to foster an awareness of ourselves as individualized beings intimately connected to the unified whole of creation.
What are the eight limbs of the yoga practice?
Yama is translated as a social discipline and traditionally focuses on practices connected to our world. However, we can apply these practices to ourselves and practice this.
The first limb of yoga, Yama, is concerned with an individual’s ethics and sense of integrity; five distinct features, including:
Asteya: not stealing from others
Brahmacharya: chastity/sexual restraint
Aparigraha: not craving what others have
Niyama is the second limb of the yoga practice concerned with observing spirituality and self-discipline. It means practicing spiritual customs consistently, such as attending services at church or saying grace before you eat, or forming personal meditation practice.
The five niyamas are:
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: the study of the sacred scriptures and one’s self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
Asanas are the various postures practiced in yoga, and these postures help develop concentration skills and discipline, which are vital aspects of yoga.
Pranayama, which means having breath control, involves techniques that will help persons master their respiratory process while also being mindful of the harmony of the breath, the mind, and the emotions.
Pratyahara is the fifth limb of yoga practice and deals with withdrawal. This stage allows you to take your focus from the outside world and introspect. You reflect on your behaviors and habits that negatively impact your health through your unbiased introspection.
After completing the first five limbs, it’s time to focus on Dharana, also known as concentration. Concentration is the prelude to meditation. During this process, you slow down your thoughts and think about a specific object or image in your mind.
After spending an extended period concentrating, you transition into dhyana, also known as meditation. In this stage, your mind is entirely still as there are few or no thoughts. Endurance is required to reach this level, and if you have done this, it is commendable.
Samadhi is the stage of ecstasy. The meditator is connected with all living things, feels a sense of peace, and truly becomes one with the Universe. The completion of the yogi path happens when you have made peace with everything around you.
If you want to experience all the limbs of the yogi path, sign up for classes with Yoga Angels International, our instructors will equip you with the skills you need to transition from one limb to the next.
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