Yoga-It’s not all about the Asanas

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What’s all the fuss about?

Yoga in the West has exploded in popularity over the last decade, with millions of people worldwide now practicing Yoga, and Yoga studios are popping everywhere. Once people practice and enjoy the the physical postures of yoga-the asanas, a natural interest evolves into the whole philosophy of Yoga, what it is and and the reasons behind it. Yoga used to be taught one to one by a guru and a student, by practice and word of mouth. The ancient Indian sage, Panatanjali, thousands of years ago, (nobody knows the date), wrote the Yoga Sutras- a guide to living a meaningful life, eventually leading to enlightenment. Yoga is not a religion, and doesn’t require any allegiance to any particular system of belief. Yoga means to ‘join’ or union, the union of the mind, body and soul. Pantanjali’s 8 limbs are a guide for the benefit of the body, to calm the mind, and connect with our higher consciousness.

Pantanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

1. The Yamas-Codes of ethical behaviour-non violence, non stealing, truthfulness, restraint from sexual restraint, and freedom from desire.

2. Niyamas–individual discipline-study of the self, contentment, cleanliness, austerity, physical and mental discipline. .

3. Asana-physical postures bringing the body and mind together, from physical to spiritual awareness.

4. Pranayama.Breathing techniques, to calm the nervous system and clear the mind.

5.Pratyhara- Withdrawal of the senses. After integrting the first 4 limbs, the Yamas and Niyamas, and practising the asanas, and the Pranayamas, one can now with draw inwards, in preparation for the next 3 limbs.

6. Dharana .Focused concentration on one point. Total absorption. The longer the mind remains on absorption, the stronger it becomes.

7.Dhyana-Meditation.When the mind stays in the single state of absorption, it becomes meditation, when the mind, body and breath are one.

8. Samadhi -The ultimate state of peace, achieved by practising the other 7 limbs of Yoga. The essence of Yoga is the settling of the mind, rising above consciousness.

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