What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient healing art and science dedicated to restoring balance to mind, body and spirit. It is the remembering of our true nature by awakening what has been dormant or buried due to conditioning. The core of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is an eight-limbed path that forms the foundation for yoga practice. The eight limb path offers guidance on how to remove obstacles and cultivate awareness so that we can live more fully and present in our daily life.
Eight Limb Path
The first two limbs are ethical guidelines about how to approach the world and align with the highest good towards ourselves and others.
- Ahimsa: non-harming, non-violence, loving kindness
- Satya: living in truth, in thoughts, words and actions
- Asteya: non-stealing or honoring what belongs to others
- Brahmacharya: wise and appropriate use of vital energy
- Aparigraha: non-grasping, non-hoarding, letting go
- Saucha: purity, cleanliness
- Santosha: contentment, equanimity, to accept what life brings
- Tapas: to build fire, burning enthusiasm, discipline in practice
- Svadyaya: self-study through contemplation, teachings, and ancient texts
- Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender to higher purpose, serving the highest good
The middle three limbs include asana, pranayama and pratyahara.
Asana is the practice of physical postures. On the mat we can explore the body and the breath to open the energy lines, improve balance, strength and inner stability. By exploring the breath in asana we learn to listen within and remove veils that cloud our true nature. With effort and compassion we learn to face challenges which can help us move beyond what holds us back from our inherent potential.
Pranayama is working with the breath as a tool to purify and balance our system. The breath can be used to soothe our nerves, sustain focus and expand energy. With pranayama techniques we direct the flow of prana to nourish mind, body and spirit.
Pratyahara means to draw inward. It is the bridge between the external and inner awareness. We move our focus away from the external world and sensory stimulation as we learn to move inward to the inner landscape of peace and silence.
The last three limbs are deepening levels of focus and awareness, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.
Dharana: focus and concentration, cultivating inner awareness
Dhyana: sustaining our concentration and inner awareness, meditation
Samadhi: oneness, bliss, self realization, pure awareness
Through the practice of yoga and the eight limb path we restore balance and equanimity so that we can live in peace, good health and harmony with ourselves, with others and the highest good.