Yoga is a science created for a balanced union between the body, mind, and spirit. It is all about helping individuals to live in peace, good health, and harmony. The yoga sutras of Patanjali have described eight limbs of yoga for a meaningful and purposeful life. These 8 steps form a structured framework for yoga practice. Let us take a look at these eight limbs in detail.
This first limb talks about moral vows or disciplines. It refers to practices and disciplines that are concerned with the world around us. It deals with our ethical standards and focuses on our behavior. There are five yamas in all.
These five yamas form the pillar of good conduct in society.
These are rules or laws for the personal observance. They represent an individual’s attitude towards living soulfully. There are five niyamas.
Cleanliness of both the inner and outer aspects, that is, the body and mind
Feeling of being content with whatever we have
Keeping the inner urges in control, enthusiastically engaging in life, and achieving our goals.
Cultivating self-reflective conscience
Laying all our actions in the feet of God.
Asanas means the physical practice of yoga postures. These postures have multiple benefits like improving health, strength, balance, and flexibility. They offer the practitioner a way to control all aspects like emotions, concentration, and strength. They also aid concentration and help with practicing meditation.
Pranayama is measuring and controlling of breath. It controls the prana, that is, the energy inside an individual, and contributes towards positive health. These breathing techniques are very important and go hand in hand with the asanas.
This is about control of senses and means retreating. One should practice this art of withdrawal of senses from attachment to external objects. This practice of non-attachment helps us return to the path of self-realization and attain peace.
This means the immovable concentration of mind. The main idea is to hold concentration only in one direction. It is one of the major steps towards perfecting the practice of Dhyana and Samadhi as both need concentration.
Dhyana is all about devotion and meditation. Conceptually, when anyone focuses on the divine, they become reflective and aware of their true nature.
This is the final step and means ‘to merge’. In this state, the body and soul are at rest but alert. The meditator finds a profound connection with the divine. This is the most difficult step and any practitioner is suggested to master the other seven limbs to practice Samadhi.
The practice of these 8 limbs is sometimes termed as Raja yoga. Also, these 8 limbs are a combination of external and internal yoga and are interconnected. With regular practice, the body becomes flexible, breathing comes under control, and the mind is filled with a sense of peace. Practice these eight limbs to lead a stressful and healthy life.