What is Yoga?
Y oga has the power to change your life. Yoga unites the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is about learning how to calm your mind and listen to your body, while increasing your body's strength, balance, and flexibility.
Yoga goes beyond the everyday workout you see in today's health magazines. Not only will yoga help you lose weight and make you look and feel great, yoga will literally change your entire body from the inside out. This includes your organs, nervous system, bones, muscles, ligaments, mind, and spirit. It's the ultimate full-body workout.
You don't have to be in super shape or really young to do yoga. In fact, it doesn't matter how old or young you are. There is a yoga style that's just right for you. Yoga is not about pushing your body to the limit. Yoga is not about letting your ego push you to do more, or trying to impress others, or living up to your own unrealistic expectations.
Yoga is about listening to your body. It's about focusing on your breathing while your body naturally releases into the various poses. Without even thinking about it, your body will find its own limit. The harder you focus on your breathing, the easier it is for your body to give into the pose-thus, increasing your strength, flexibility, balance, and focus.
The hardest thing about yoga is learning how to breathe, but as you practice you begin to understand and appreciate the power of breathing. Yoga isn't just about postures and breathing. Yoga is much more than that. It's a way of life, and can be brought into every aspect of your life.
The Eight-Limbed Approach to Yoga
Over 3,000 years ago, a yoga master named Patanjali created what he called the eight-limbed approach to yoga. In this practice it is the journey that is important-the moment.
There is no threat of "You must do this or else." The approach he created was much more open-minded and realistic. It simply says that if you want to be a happy and peaceful person, consider these things. It is also a journey to get to know your true self. Each limb is discussed below listed in order of importance. The eight limbs are:
Yamas - Encourage moderations and restraint.
Niyamas - Ground rules for self-discipline and inner awareness.
Asanas - Postures that keep the body healthy and the mind calm to allow energy to flow more freely.
Pranayama - Focuses on experiencing the link between the breath, mind, and body.
Pratyahara - Turning all of your senses inwards. In doing that, you become aware of your body and feel when your body is in pain or being challenged.
Dharana - When the mind, once withdrawn into itself, is fixed in one pointed inner concentration.
Dhyana - Meditation, without focusing on an object, founded in deep inner space of awareness.
Samedhi - The ecstatic state of being, in which the mediator and the object become one.