What is Yoga?

In the West we tend to think of Yoga as postures we do on a mat.

person wearing black tank top doing yoga position

This is actually asana practice; important but only one aspect of a complete Yoga practice.

Yoga comes from the word Yuj meaning to connect, join or unite.

Yoga is not just about union but about things connecting with each other; your individual consciousness connecting with your inner self.

There are 8 limbs to a full Yoga practice.

Each limb is a complete discipline and a life long journey of learning.

I’ll keep it short and simple. Please know that by doing so, I can not fit an ocean in a bottle – so there will be many aspects of each limb that are not represented!

The 8 limbs are; Yama, Niyama, Ãsana, Prãnayãma, Pratyãhãra, Dhãrana, Dhyãna and Samadhi.

The Yamas and Niyamas are ethical guidelines for living.

The Yamas deal with having integrity in our lives and the Niyamas discipline.

Ãsana practice is the one we are perhaps most familiar with.

Posture practice. Within this area there are many forms of asana practices, each one with a different intention.

Prãnayãma  – breathing practices. An in depth field of work and transformation.

Pratyãhãra the reduction of the senses.

When we reduce external stimuli we become more aware of the mind. This can be in every aspect of our lives in many forms.

The simple act of closing our eyes is an example.

Dhãrana, -roughly translated as concentration but really this word is not big enough to encompasss all that Dharana means.

We can apply it to every aspect of our lives. Energy flows where our attention goes.

Dhyãna– the practice of Meditation or contemplation. There are many different practices each one with it’s own method. There is no ‘One‘ way.

Samadhi –

A difficult word to sum up. It can be described many different ways; bliss states, realisation, peace, at one with yourself and the universe. Union with the Divine. It can not be really described only experienced.

Each limb of Yoga prepares you for the next one.

They are all a lifelong path of learning and practice.

To have a full Yoga practice all 8 limbs will be incorporated into your life.

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