by Himanshu Joshi: The 8 limbs of yoga is the path of self realization that includes moral, physical, spiritual, and practical aspects of yoga practice…
We take control of our true self rather than give control to the outer self. This has to be step by step from step one of the beginning of the 8 limbs of yoga in order to understand and experience the higher level.
The first is Yama which is social ethics as the relationship towards the outer world. It consist of moral vows on things we shouldn’t do. We need to overcome our outward thought patterns which keep our awareness into the outer world as a first step to cultivate inward. Yama consist of 5 elements which is:
- Ahimsa –non violence or non harming in physical, mental and emotional aspects.
- Satya – Truthfulness. Remove lie is also remove fear of the consequences.
- Asteya – non stealing. Craving of things that we don’t have, material and non material. This is associated with jealousy, hatred and possessiveness.
- Brahmacharya – celibacy . no sexual interaction that is lead by mind control .
- Aparigraha – non conveting – a practice that is non possessing things due to lust, fear, anxiety and attachment.
The second limb is Niyama which is self discipline or things we should do. This controls the inner thoughts and daily habits to draw awareness in.
- Saucha – cleanliness for body and surrounding and also our mind/ thoughts.
- Santosha – contentment in any situation not dependant on circumstances. Be happy of what we have and see new things as a gift which is a respect to receive it.
- Tapas – austerity. Continuous never give up the path of yoga no matter bad, hard or easy. Without expectation.
- Svadhyay- self study . consistent inquire ourselves to realize the mistake and weakness and learn to overcome it.
- Ishvara pranidyana – surrender to God. Acknowledge the supreme power for the outcome.
Yama and Niyama require mental which control over outward and inward senses of mind and body. These are practice with the 3rd limb which is asana. It is the stillness of mind and body in any position. It gives our mind and body over the control of wandering awareness. It create strong spine and align a strong body for meditation in stillness.
The 4th limb is pranayama which is breathing techniques that take control of the prana or life force. Here we control the awareness to where the prana moves within the body. These 4 limbs can be corrected with the right methods preparation. Pranayama is the foundation of the next 4 internal cleansing.
The 5th limb Prathayara is withdrawal of senses that interact with the outside world. It creates a field that block the external interpretation from the 5 senses that interpreted in our brain and focus inward.
Dharana is the 6th limb which is concentration. We can use trataka, mantra or breathing as this practice to set the intention to meditate. This step is essestial before meditation as it bring awareness into deeper level to meet with our true self.
Then , the 7th limb is meditation where we focus on one point effortlessly in a lengthened time. This is when our body totally unaffected by external factor and mind and body absolutely in focus. It cannot be forced. It is the experience in between thoughts where nothingness is in an extended time. It is fully awareness of present moment.
Samadhi is the final limb where pure bliss is experienced. It is the enlightenment stage. Not affected by the outer and the inner world. To maintain this stage , one has to be fully detached from desires, fear and worldly attachments.