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One of the biggest questions I get asked is” how is enlightenment related to yoga? Yogis have their own goal when they practice yoga. Do you practice yoga to release stress? Do you practice yoga to lose weight? The practice of yoga is often described as a way of connecting between body, mind and spirit. Its objective is to assist yogis by using the breath and body to foster an awareness of ourselves as being us intimately connected to the unified whole of creation. According to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, it describes the inner workings of the mind and provides the eight aspects of a yogic lifestyle which are called the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The limbs are practical guides to a person’s personal development to achieve the harmony of the mind, the body and the spirit which leads to Samadhi or enlightenment.
In brief the Eight Limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:
- Yama: Universal morality
- Niyama: Personal observations
- Asana: Physical poses, designed to free our mind and body from tension and stress
- Pranayama: Breathing exercises, the control of breath
- Pratyahara: Control of the senses, become unaware of outside situations and no longer distracted by outside events
- Dharana: Concentration, training the mind to focus without any distraction
- Dhyana: Devotion, meditation on the divine
- Samadhi: Enlightenment, union with the divine, the ultimate goal of the Eight Limbs of Yoga
Patanjali encourages yogis to follow the Eight Limbs of Yoga, and they will gradually discover a deeper recognition of the inner self and eventually leads to enlightenment.
The practice of Yoga does not only deal with developing the body by asana practice but also covers all the aspect of a person’s life as stated in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
If you want to know more about the Eight Limbs of Yoga, check out the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and you may find a way to get to Samadhi!