Yoga is much more than a physical exercise, it requires the mind, body and breath to work together in harmony. When this is achieved the practitioner experiences clarity of mind or in simpler terms focus. The yogic journey is made up of 8 stages, known in yoga as the 8 limbs of yoga. The 8 limbs of yoga are quite comprehensive and provide the practitioner with a framework of how they can best interact with themselves and the world around them, in order to cultivate mental clarity. Each of the 8 limbs contains sub-categories which provide more in-depth explanations of how to achieve this. The eight limbs are:
1. Yama: How we interact with the world around us.
2. Niyama: How we interact with ourselves.
3. Asanas: Postures.
4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises.
5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses.
6. Dharana: Concentration.
7. Dhyana: Continuous concentrated communication
8. Samadhi: Complete union.
Currently, Western society primarily focuses on asanas, which is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. This reinforces the perception that yoga is a physical exercise rather than a mental one and as a result many people are not receiving the full benefits of their yoga practice. If you are interested in learning about the 8 limbs of yoga as well as the different paths to achieving yoga I recommend you read the book “The Heart of Yoga” written by T. K. V. Desikachar. In addition I also recommend watching the DVD "Yoga Unvieled."
May the divinity in me, shine to the divinity in you!