The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
As we go about our daily lives, it's easy to get stressed out and lose touch with ourselves. We often get so busy with our jobs and responsibilities that we forget to make time for our spirituality. Ashtanga yoga can help us get in touch with our inner selves and become more spiritual.
A wise man named Patanjali lived in India more than 2200 years ago. He put together and made sense of different meditation practices that were considered old at the time. His book, the Yoga Sutras, became one of the most important texts for meditation and is still highly regarded. Ashtanga yoga is the name for the eight parts of Patanjali's system for meditation. The word "anga" literally means "part," but it's often translated as "limb." The eight angas are like steps on a ladder, and they're sometimes shown as limbs on a tree.
The first two angas tell people how to control their behavior. They forbid adharmic, or unethical, actions and tell them to develop different dharmic virtues.
The last three angas tell you how to control your mind by doing certain things.
By teaching people how to control their body, breath, senses, and mind in that order, these eight angas give people the skills they need for meditation, yoga, and life in general. Let's look a little more closely at how each anga can make us more spiritual.
1. Yama: Moral Principles
The first part of yoga, called Yama, is about moral standards and rules. The five Yamas forbid five types of bad behavior. These are violence, lying, stealing, immorality, and possessiveness. By following these moral rules in our daily lives, we build a foundation of honesty and respect that helps us connect with ourselves and others more deeply.
Here, you can try our Yama Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Yama
2. Niyama means "self-control"
Niyama is the second part of yoga. It is self-discipline and spiritual practices. The five Niyamas require the cultivation of dharmic virtues, such as purity of body and mind, contentment and forbearance, spiritual disciplines like fasting, spiritual study, prayer, and worship. By taking part in these rituals, we give our lives a sense of order and discipline, which helps us develop a deeper spirituality. These things also help people meditate by making their lives less stressful and giving them attitudes and traits that are important for getting the mind ready for meditation.
Check out our Niyama Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Niyama
3. Asana: Positions of the Body
Asana, which means "posture," is the third part of yoga. It is made up of physical positions that help improve our health and well-being. It is what most yoga practices today are all about. By doing Asana regularly, we can improve our flexibility, strength, and balance, which can help us feel more grounded and connected to our bodies.
Check out our Asana Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Asana
4. Pranayama: Controlling Your Breath
Pranayama is the fourth part of yoga. It teaches us how to control our breathing, which helps us breathe better and feel more alive. By doing Pranayama, we can learn to control our breath, which can help us deal with stress, clear our minds, get ready for meditation, and give us more energy.
Check out our Pranayama Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Pranayama
5. Pratyahara means to pull away from the senses
Pratyahara, the fifth part of yoga, is when we turn inward and stop letting outside things affect us. By doing Pratyahara, we can learn to tune out distractions and focus on our inner selves, which can help us develop a deeper sense of self-awareness and spirituality. When we meditate, it's especially important to turn off our hearing so we won't be distracted.
Here is a place to try Pratyahara Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Pratyahara
6. Dharana - Concentration
Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga. It is made up of techniques that help us concentrate on a single point. In yoga, that often means focusing on a single unmoving area of the ground or wall in front of you. During meditation, you can focus on many things, such as the sound "om," a mantra, your breathing, a sacred image or a candle flame, or the divine presence within you. By doing Dharana, we can improve our ability to concentrate and focus, which can help us stay in the moment and develop a deeper sense of awareness.
Here is our Dharana Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Dharana
7. Dhyana means to meditate
Dhyana, the seventh limb of yoga, is made up of meditation techniques that help us calm our minds and feel more at peace with ourselves. It is a steady, unbroken stream of the same thoughts. By doing Dhyana, we can learn to watch our thoughts and feelings without judging them. This can help us become more self-aware and spiritual. When you practice dhyana regularly, you will eventually reach samadhi, the eighth and last limb.
Here, you can try our Dyhana Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Dhyana
8. Samadhi - Bliss
Samadhi, the last part of the yoga limbs, means to reach a state of pure happiness and enlightenment. Not samadhi, but the state of kaivalya is the ultimate goal. Kaivalya is staying as yourself, as your true nature, as unborn, unchanging, all-pervasive consciousness that is completely independent of anything that can cause suffering. By practicing the other 7 limbs of yoga, we can gradually work towards kaivalya and feel a deep sense of spiritual fulfillment.
Here is our Samadhi Yoga Flow:
8 Limbs: Samadhi
Benefits of Regular Practice
By doing the 8 parts of yoga, you can become more spiritual and feel more connected to yourself and the world. By practicing these eight angas regularly, a person can reach the ultimate goal of staying as their true nature, which is all-pervasive consciousness that is completely independent of anything that can cause suffering. By doing these things every day, you can develop an inner sense of peace, balance, and harmony that will help you in all parts of your life.