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The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

A series of steps and disciplines which purify the body and mind leading one to enlightenment

YAMA ~ One’s attitude towards others

NIYAMA~ One’s attitude towards one’s self

ASANA ~ Postures

PRANAYAMA ~ Breathing

PRATYAHARA ~ Sensory Inhibition

DHARANA ~ Focus

DHYANA ~ Meditation

SAMADHI ~ Blissful absorption of one’s individual consciousness in the essence of the universe

Asana

Asana means staying or abiding. It is through asana that an individual achieves the unity of body and mind.

The Yogic Asana’s (postures) have been devised for the purpose of comfort and steadfastness during mediation and pranayama. Each posture reflects a mental attitude, whether it be one of surrender, the strengthening of will or the creation of a physical mantra with the body. Through the performance and practice of different asana’s one is able to learn the handling of different situations.

Another important aspect of asana is that it can temporarily bring peace and free the mind of all worries. The quieting of mind promotes the balancing of the mental functions of the individual. Asana’s have great healing implications. The asana and pranayama practices bring about the desired state of health in an individual. It also helps in control of breath. Asana’s harmonize the flow of energy in the organism, thereby lifting the spirits of the individuals practicing.

* Information derived from yoga.iloveindia.com

 

Niyama

A Sanskrit word meaning rules or laws. These are the rules prescribed for personal observance. Niyama is more intimate and personal compared with the other Yamas. They refer to the attitude we adopt towards ourselves.

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  • SAUCA : this is the first Niyama which means cleanliness. Sauca has both inner and outer aspect. Outer cleanliness is simply keeping ourselves clean. Inner cleanliness has as much to do with the healthy, free functioning of our bodily organs as with the clarity of our mind. Practicing asanas or pranayama are essential means for attending to this inner sauca
  • SAMTOSA:  Modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have. Literally the word means HAPPINESS! There are occasions we work hard to get something. We get very dissappointed when we don’t get it. This happens because we do not have the discipline to be content with what we have. We should accept that there is a purpose for everything- Yoga calls it KARMA. In ‘Celestine Prophecy’ James Redfield calls this synchronicity. Literally SAMTOSA is to ‘accept what happens.’
  • TAPAS:  Refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Through Tapas lies the idea that we can get rid of the rubbish in our body. another form of tapas is paying attention to the foods we eat. Attention to body posture, attention to eating habits, attention to breathing patterns-all help to prevent the buildup of rubbish in the body, including excess weight and shortness of breath. Tapas gives us the discipline of developing healthy eating habits and prevents us from getting high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • SVADHYAYA:  this fourth Niyama means SELF or ‘belonging to me.’ Adhyaya means inquiry or examination. The literal meaning is ‘to get close to something.’ To get close to yourself, to study yourself. It teaches us to be centered and non reactive to the dualities, to born out unwanted and destructive tendencies. All learning, all reflection, all contact that helps you to learn more about yourself is Svadhyaya, translated as ‘the study of ancient texts’

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