Yoga dates back to about 5,000 years old. The word Yoga has several different meanings including to ‘yoke’ or ‘unite’. In Asana class, it may be said to unite the body, mind and breath. More traditionally the term Yoga is used for uniting our individual consciousness with the universal consciousness.
Yoga Philosopher Patanjali created a path to follow in the form of Eight Limbs, including:
YAMAS Ahimsa. Satya. Asteya. Brahmacharya. Aparigraha. Non violence. Truthfulness. Nonstealing. Balance and moderation. Letting go.
NIYAMAS Saucha. Santosa. Tapas. Svadhyaya. Isvara Pranidhana. Cleanliness. Contentment. Tradition. Self study and continuous education. Surrender to the Divine.
ASANA Physical postures. Down dog, Up dog, Tadasana. What we think of as yoga in the States. Little hint, it’s way more than that.
PRANAYAMA Breathing. Life Force. Pranayama is the vehicle to move your life force throughout the body. This can be practiced on its own or in sync with asana postures.
PRATYAHARA Withdrawal of the five senses. Not cutting them off completely but more bringing them inward and thus pulling away from outside distraction.
DHARANA Concentration on a single point. Working hand and hand with Pratyahara, here we can focus on one thing the mind itself may be fixated on. Our practice to clear the mind of this fixation along with the rest of the senses.
DHYANA Meditation. Uninterrupted flow of concentration.
SAMADHI Enlightenment. Pure peace. The Holy Grail of Yoga, plain and simple.