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Eight Limbs of RajaYoga (Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga)
There are eight limbs of Yoga which together help us attain the highest realization of Samadhi. Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2:29 lists them as follows:
Yamas are 5, they are:
There are 5 Niyamas (observances), they are:
The purpose of Asanas (Hatha Yoga) is to have steadiness, to have control over body and mind so that body and mind do not become obstacles when practicing Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.
Body produces neural signals when a part of body is under stress, when body is not firm, balance is not easy, Yogasanas which are also collectively called Hatha Yoga make one's body a well tuned instrument, some poetically say Yogasanas build a fine temple of body for the divine to occupy it.
There are 84 classically ("Goraksha Samhita", "Hatha Yoga Pradipika") explained Yogic Postures, Some of the popular Yogasanas (Yoga Postures) are:
Yogasana is a combination of rhythmic breathing & a posture, these postures were classically copied from the postures of animals in nature, thus it is said there are 840,000 postures over all each corresponding to a species.
Pranayama (Control of Prana)
Prana is the flow of life-energy, an energy related to the combined astral & Physical body. With our every action, thought, feeling there is movement of energy inside. The purpose is to steady the Prana, so that there is no sudden and uneven movement which disturbs the mind.
Pranayamas are often practiced with Mudras, by using some fingers and folding some to make better use of internal energy movement towards stilling the body-mind.
Some of the popularly used Pranayamas are:
Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
Withdrawal of the energy from the senses for the sake of directing it inward. This is the practice of minimalising the effect of external world on the practice of Yoga.
A thorough practice of Pratyaharas prepares one for higher stages. After the withdrawal of mind from senses, internal focus increases, one starts hearing Sounds of AUM or seeing the light at the Ajna chakra
Focus, concentration, One-pointed ness though not the highest objective is certainly a powerful tool in eliminating the unnecessary mental habits, once one achieves the ability to focus mind intensely, thoughts do not come and disturb one unnecessarily.
Dharana is practiced by focusing on objects, light or sounds initially, later as one grows spiritually one hears variations of AUM, concentrating on which is far easier and more fruitful, so is the case with the phenomenon of seeing astral light.
Dhayana is the unbroken steadiness of the mind, mind is still, one-pointed and stable without movement, when that state is achieved it is called dhyana.
A new yogi finds his mind swayed every now and then, but in between he too experiences glimpses of stillness. Over time as one becomes steady in practice, internalization leads to stillness, even over extended periods.
Stillness thus attained leads to extreme concentration, detachment, unbiased judgement, calmness in general activities, control over fear.
Samadhi (Spiritual Absorption)
Sama=even/equal; Dhi= consciousness/ intelligence.
When mind is so still that he escapes the mental limitations imposed on one by the nature, he or she is said to be one with consciousness, the pure being, the true Self.
Realizing the oneness with consciousness by subduing the mind is said to be the highest realization there is, the finality of all quest, the purpose of Yoga & all other spiritual practices.
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