Yoga is a whole life practice. At it's core it is a meditation practice.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga lay out a path for living life in peace and harmony. There are many interpretations about exactly what each aspect of the Eight Limbs mean, but they are all designed to keep your life in balance and your mind free of fluctuations that create stress and illness. You can learn more by reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
In modern life, few will lead a strict path of yoga but we all can benefit from incorporating the concepts and practices of yoga into our daily way of living and working.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
These are the stepping stones of yoga, each limb builds upon the other.
- Ahimsa - non-violence
- Satya - truthfulness in thought, speech, and action
- Asteya - non-stealing, non-greediness
- Brahmacharya - self restraint, right use of energy
- Saucha - cleanliness (in all aspects of life, body, diet, home...)
- Santosha - contentment/ gratitude
- Tapas - self-discipline, passion, and courage
- Svadhyaya -self study
- Isvara Pranidhana- selfless action
Asana - postures, the physical practice of yoga. Asana is part of taking care of the physical body, and helps us to learn discipline, patience, self study, awareness, observation, how to remain calm under pressure, and concentration.
Pranayama - breathing exercises, benefits the body and mind, and leads to greater awareness and concentration.
Pratyahara - the practice of withdrawing from the senses
Dharana - concentration, single focus
Dhyana - meditation, a calm and quiet mind with keen awareness without focus, being aware of all things at once without the distraction of thoughts.
Samadhi- highest state of consciousness / enlightenment, complete tranquility of the mind. Samadhi is achieved by practicing the first 7 limbs.