In today's modern world, yoga has become a fitness phenomenon, with studios dominating city streets and suburban neighborhoods. Most western practices concentrate on the "asanas" (physical postures), and "pranayama" (breath work), but these are small components of the vastness of yoga.
At its core, yoga is the unification of the mind, body and spirit. The purpose is to become aware of the embodied soul and its connection to the infinite creator, God. Why is this realization important? Because it trims the fat of life, establishes balance and brings to mind our divine placement here on earth.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga act as a blueprint to leading a holistic life. Unfortunately, I cannot define what that looks like for you; I'm learning that as I journey through My 8 Limbs Life. What I can tell you is that this journey is a beautiful transformation of our outer and inner beings and is guided by grace and love.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga are interconnected, and not separate steps along the path. My suggestion is that you gain mastery in one before moving to another, but start where you'd like. Each limb encourages growth in another.
1. Yamas (Universal Morality): Ethics and integrity. Do onto others as you'd like them to do onto you.
2. Niyama (Personal Observances): Personal examination; relationship with self and the attitude we've adopted for how we live our lives.
3. Asanas (Physical Postures): Discovering the mind, body connection and tending to your temple. "The needs of the body are the needs of the divine spirit which lives through the body." - B.K.S Iyengar
4. Pranayama (Breath Work): Harmonizing the breath, or life force, to discover deep relaxation while linking it with mind and emotions.
5. Pratyahara (Control of the Senses): Releasing attachment to sensorial distractions.
6. Dharana (Concentration): Stilling the mind to focus its attention in one direction to cultivate inner awareness and peace.
7. Dhyana (Devotion & Meditation): Deep concentration with the intention of learning divine truth. When one focuses their mind in concentration on an object the mind is transformed into the shape of the object. Hence, when one focuses on the divine they become more reflective of "it" and its nature. As a result, we discover our nature.
8. Samadhi (Union with the Infinite God): The conscious mind drops back to the unconscious oblivion it came from and personal identity dissolves. We come to the awareness that we exist and abide in the infinite God.