Yoga means union and the practice of yoga is the union of body, mind and soul. As these three parts of the being start to work in harmony together it creates greater peace and happiness.

Yoga is an ancient tradition which dates back over 5000 years. It originates from the master Lord Shiva (who is revered as a God by many). Lord Shiva taught locals in India 84,000 different yoga postures which were reflections of nature.  The great Sage Patanjali then reformatted yoga to what is called Raja (Royal) Yoga which is the science of self realisation and has eight limbs/levels called Ashtanga. ‘Ashta’ means eight and ‘anga’ means limbs.

The eight limbs/levels of Ashtanga are;

1.     Yama

Yama means control and involves the rules of morality and self restraint;

–          Ahimsa – Non violence

–          Asteya – Non stealing

–          Satya – Truth

–          Aparigraha – Non covetousness

–          Brahamacharya – Moral life

2.     Niyama

Niyama means observance and involves the following;

–          Saucha – Purity in body, mind and words

–          Santosha – Contentment

–          Tapas – Tolerate challenges gracefully

–          Swadhyaya – Self study

–          Ishwar Pranidhana – Faith in God/ Higher being

3.     Asana

Asana literally means seat or base and involves the practice of physical exercise and posture practice.

4.     Pranayama

‘Prana’ means life force energy and ‘Yama’ means to control. Through the practice of breathing exercises you can learn to control your life force energy.

5.     Pratyahara

‘Pratya’ means towards and ‘hara’ means moving. Pratyahara is the bridge between the outer world into the inner world as you move from Asana (physical practice) into Dharana (concentration of the mind). It is often practiced through the form of relaxation techniques.

6.     Dharana

Dharana means concentration and is the practice of developing the strength to focus on one thought or object. This can involve visualisations, affirmations, prayer or focussing on the chakras.

7.     Dhyana

Dhyana means meditation which involves finding the point of stillness in the mind or the gap between our thoughts.

8.     Samadhi

Samadhi, to become one with God/higher being is the final limb of yoga. This is when one experiences a deep bliss of love and joy.

Also note within the eight limbs of Ashtanga four of the limbs compile together to make what is known as Hatha yoga. These four limbs include Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara and Dharana. This is often what we see being taught in the present day yoga classes which involves, physical exercise, breathing, light meditation and relaxation.

‘Ha’ means sun and ‘tha’ means moon. Therefore Hatha yoga is the balance of duality which exists in creation. When everything is in balance it brings together a sense of Oneness and union which is yoga.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.