Whenever we think of yoga, we think of bending, twisting, stretching our body into a posture. When we think of going to yoga class it actually means ASANA CLASS. Asana is most popular limb of eight fold path defined by Sage Patanjali.
True nature of yoga is holistic and includes every aspect of the life. In brief the eight limbs of Yoga are:
YAMA – How to treat others / societal code of conduct.
NIYAMAS – How to treat yourself /personal code of conduct
ASANAS – Physical postures
PRANAYAMS – Control of Prana/Breathing exercises
PRATYAHARA – Control of senses
DHARNA – Focus on one thing
DHYANA – Focus without an object
SAMADHI – Union with the divine
Yoga is a complete science but often world focuses mainly on the physical postures. Yoga is basically, Union or integration of the mind, body and soul with the Divine.
Body and mind are not separate and the health of one affects the other. We cannot just work on the body and expect it to be healthy if the mind is not strong and balanced.
According to Sage Patanjali, aim of asanas is to prepare the body for the meditation practice so as to attain self realization. We do poses for inner alignment, since the body always remain into the present moment, mind wanders. When we do exercise we give the mind a chance to be in the moment.
So, if one is doing asanas without adhering to yamas and niyamas, without practicing pranayama and pratyahara and without being aware of moving towards Dharana, dhyana or Samadhi…. is one practicing yoga?
Then, how to go about it?
With Yoga Asanas, try adding meditation or Pranayama. These practices are transformative and powerful.
Then to read and understand Yamas and Niyamas.
Yoga is a path of self realization and broad and rich science of self transformation. Through yoga we can discover luminous intelligence that lies within us all, and in turn can create our own health, happiness and peace.