Yoga is thousands of years old, and has been modified over time to adapt to modern society. These modifications and variations of velocity, temperature, the order of the positions and several other changes have created many different “styles” of yoga. There is a somewhat modern style of yoga known as Ashtanga yoga, but the original Ashtanga yoga refers to the eight limbs of Hatha yoga, which are aimed at controlling the body and mind to achieve lasting health, harmony and balance life.
The first branch of Hatha yoga is known as “yama”, which means “restraint” in Sanskrit. before bringing out the yoga mat to stretch and tone the body , yoga asks you to first look at your own life with honesty and clarity. According to Yoga Journal, “the Yamas deal with ethical standards and a sense of personal integrity.” The five Yamas are ahimsa, satya, asteya, aparigraha and brahmacharya, which are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, coveting, and moderation in all things, including celibacy. The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Organization refers to the Yamas and the “don’ts” of yoga, because if you do these five things, your life can be out of balance and your ability to practice yoga with efficiency decreases.
After examining your life and way of behavior, the next step in the Hatha Yoga practice is to start the Niyamas. The niyamas, or observances, are the second branch and the “doing” of Hatha yoga. These five observances are saucha, santosha, tapas, and pranidhana swadhyaya ishwara – cleanliness or purity, contentment, austerity, study of sacred texts and living constantly being aware of the divine presence.
When you get to advance through the hard work of introspection, it’s time to get the yoga mat. The third branch of Hatha Yoga is the one that most people are familiar (the physical postures, or asanas). In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the earliest written texts on Hatha Yoga, Asana provides that “should be practiced for a firm posture, health and lightness of body . Success comes to him who is engaged in practice. reading only books on Yoga, one can not succeed. ” The yoga asanas are used to make the body strong and healthy to prepare for the next stages of Hatha yoga.
Pranayama, control of breath or vital energy, is the fourth branch of Hatha yoga. The basic pranayama is often taught in yoga classes today, and is commonly known as breathing exercises. According to Yoga Journal, yogis believe that pranayama not only rejuvenates the body , but also extends the life itself. Breathing is connected to the mind and, as indicated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, when the mind is calm, breathing is quiet, and when breathing is steady, the mind is constant. Therefore, by practicing breathing control through pranayama, the practitioner get peace of mind.
The fifth branch is the withdrawal of the senses or pratyahara. At this stage of the practice of Hatha Yoga, you start to take your mind of outside distractions, desires and concerns, and focus your energy inward. “This separation allows us to objectively observe our cravings: habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and are likely to interfere with our internal growth,” states the Yoga Journal.
Dharana is concentration. As each stage of Hatha yoga is perfected, you are led naturally to the next step. While practicing the other five branches of Hatha yoga, there are many opportunities and needs for concentration. Here, with the constant practice of dharana, the skill is perfected. Dharana is achieved by focusing the mind on a single point and thus conserving energy is often wasted on the thinking of many ideas at once, that people and disturb the mind.
Meditation or dhyana concentration comes naturally. While the mind is focused on a point with a body that is strong, the breath is calm and clear mind, meditation follows automatically. According to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta, meditation is the state of pure thought and absorption in the object of meditation. In dhyana, is directed to the thoughts that are totally stop, filling the practitioner with a deep sense of joy and happiness.
The realization, bliss, nirvana or enlightenment. All these definitions of samadhi. This state of pure consciousness can be experienced after many years of practicing all other branches of Hatha Yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher. The Sivananda Yoga Centers define samadhi as the super-conscious state. “In samadhi, non-duality or oneness is experienced. This is the deepest and highest state of consciousness, where the body and mind have been transcended and the yogi is one with the Self or God. “