YOGA, is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, which means, to unite, to join, to attach or to combine. It is all about getting united, through the physical, mental practice, combining your outer self to your inner self.
There some practices and procedures which helps the body and mind to get in alignment and thus helping oneself to be healthy, in both, physical and mental levels of being.
To understand, how yoga helps, we need to know about YOGA in more depths and description. Yoga has 8 limbs, which helps or guides an individual to go through the journey of YOGA.
8 limbs of YOGA are:
Out of these 8, first 4 limbs are, physical practices, and the last 4 limbs are mental/psychological. So the basic practice of YOGA begins with this list.
First one in the list is “Yama”, which means the Social Codes of Conduct (Yogic Ethics).
There are 5 Yamas;
- Ahimsa (non-violence, compassion, self-love)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Astheya (non-stealing, honesty)
- Brahmacharya (control of sexual energy)
- Aparigraha (non-coveting, non-possessiveness)
The second is “Niyama”, which means the Personal Code of Conduct (Yogic/ Lifestyle Disciplines).
There are 5 Niyamas;
- Shaucha (purity – body, thought, environment)
- Santosha (contentment, gratitude)
- Tapas (austerity, the ability to go without)
- Swadhayaya (self-study and development)
- Ishwara pranidhana (surrender to the Divine)
The third is “Asana”, which means the Posture. Practice of physical postures with awareness, balancing effort and comfort, revitalizing the body, helping the body to unblock all the blockages and thus giving very flexible, strong and healthy body for further advance practices in YOGA. The main purpose of Yoga Asanas, in the Yoga Sutras is to make the body a fit vehicle for Pranayama and Meditation. For this purpose, the asana should be steady and stable. In that pose, one relaxes one’s efforts and lets the mind slip into infinity.
The fourth one is “Pranayama”, which means Control of Breath. It is the practice, which teaches or trains you to control your inhalation, and exhalation. It helps in controlling the Prana (energy) in the body, which energises the body and mind, and helps to calm your thoughts in mind, which helps in having clear mind and think clear with complete focus.
The above 4 limbs are physical, and thus are the basic practice in YOGA, which is the initial of the whole journey.
The fifth one is “Pratyahara”, which means withdrawing your mind from all the senses. Educating yourself about the senses, senses of pain, or senses of pleasure. It’s about keeping the mind completely detached from any senses, from which the mind wants to run away, or wants to run towards it.
The sixth one is “Dharana”, which means focussing the mind towards one point/ or one object. In this practice, you train your mind to be focussed on one point which is externally placed, irrespective of all the distractions you have, in the Pratyahara, you have already learnt to keep your mind withdrawn from the distractions, and in Dharana you train that undistracted mind to be focussed on one point/object.
The seventh one is “Dhayana”, which is having uninterrupted flow of concentration. Although Dharana and Dhyana may appear to be one and the same, there is a fine line of distinction, between these two. Where Dharana is one pointed attention, Dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus. At this stage mind has become quiet, and produces few or no thoughts at all. It takes a lot of strength and stamina to reach this phase, so don’t give up. While it may seem difficult task, but remember yoga is all about patience.
The eighth one is “Samadhi”, Patanjali describes this as final stage of Ashtanga, as a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator merges with his/ her point of focus and transcends the Self Altogether. He/ She comes to realize a profound connection to the Divine, an interconnectedness with all living things.
These eight steps of yoga indicate a logical pathway that leads to the attainment of physical, ethical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health. Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather, it allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.