Yoga; The 8 Limbs of Yoga. Prãnãyãma.

There are 8 limbs to a full Yoga practice. Each limb is a complete discipline and a life long journey of learning.

The 8 limbs are; Yama, Niyama, Ãsana, Prãnayãma, Pratyãhãra, Dhãrana, Dhyãna and Samadhi. In this article we’ll look at Prãnãyãma.

The word Prãnãyãma consists of two parts. Prãna and ãyãma. Ãyama means to stretch or extend and describes the actions of Prãnãyãma. Prãna is life force, it is Chi, vitality, it is infinitely everywhere. Another way to interpret is that Prãna is energy and yãma means restraint.

Prãnayãma is breath work, the control of the breath & energy.

Breath is life. Energy is life. It is neither created nor destroyed but transformed.

Prãnayãma is the yogic breath of transformation.

There are three main types of breathing;

Clavicular – Shallow breathing, in the top of the body.

Intercostal breathing – in the middle of the body.

Abdominal Breathing – deep breathing.

There are three parts to each breath, Inhalation, retention and exhalation.

Prãnãyãma practice works with all of these elements of the breath. The first step of the practice is awareness of the breath. Once the practitioner is aware they can then manipulate the breath. You can influence the flow of Prãna in your body through your breath. Your breath influences your mind and vice versa.

There are many types of Prãnãyãma practices and they all work with different aspects depending on the intention of the practice, just like the different intentions in ãsana practice. This really is just an introduction to what Prãnãyãma is. It truly is a practice that is greater than the sum of it’s parts and writing this- is like trying to fit an ocean in a small bottle to summarise it!

When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so the mind is still.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Each limb of Yoga prepares you for the next one. The Prãnãyãma practice helps to cultivate your awareness of breath and energy. The mid becomes more peaceful  in preparation for your meditation practice.

All 8 limbs of Yoga offer a lifelong path of learning and practice.

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

So what does Going to Yoga mean? Your Yoga is where you are, not just on the mat.

Food for thought…

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