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The 8 Limbs of Yoga

~By Ruth West

Here are the 8 steps to a self-realized life – made SIMPLE

The YAMA are your social codes of conduct – the Don'ts's. Just think what you would refrain from when you are out in public. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t harm, don’t philander, don’t be greedy; all the no-no’s your Mama (or Nana) brought you up with. Don’t mis-behave!

Next is the NIYAMA – Your Personal Code of Conduct – these are the Do’s. Do be pure, do be clean, do be content with what you have, do show self-discipline, do keep learning, do take care of your environment. This is about cleanliness of mind, body, and deeds. You become the best version of You. And you are grateful for your experiences. You practice moderation, kindness, caring, listening, and compassion. Behave yourself!

Following this is ASNA – the Yogic postures you practice. This is about your Body. It is a Temple and you are the Housekeeper - sweeping and dusting and preparing it to host your Spirit. Each posture brings you a union of the Body with Mind, and Spirit. Become aware of the beauty of your Body – work to strengthen it with these exercises.

After this comes PRANAYAMA – breath control. Breath is life. And yes – there is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. When you LEARN how to breathe – you increase your health and slow your aging. Use your breath to either calm or energize. Use it to control your Mind.

The fifth step is PRATYAHARA – turning inward. With this step – you begin your self-reflection. What is inside you? Your emotions, your thoughts, your reactions and conclusions – you will learn to examine these and use your free choice to control and channel these for your highest good. When you turn away from external stimulation and distractions you can really examine what is going on within.

Further this with the next step – DHARANA - concentration. When you have used the steps above to temper your Body, refine your Mind, and control your Senses, you are ready to focus on your objective. What you focus on will manifest into your reality. This brings you to the NOW moment where everything is really happening.

To do this, you will employ the next step – DHYANA – meditation. There are so many kinds of meditation - but the purpose is to funnel all your energies toward a single sacred object, the breath, a mantra, or an image - to quiet your entire being and become still to allow the Divine to enter and fill up the spaces.

The final step is SAMADHI – the Oneness with all Creation. You come to a Union with All That Is. You find out there is no Separation from the Divine after all. You have prepared yourself for this step-by-step. You have cleaned and swept your Temple, you have prepared the Feast for your honored Guest. You have prepared the place for them to Rest and Refresh. You welcome the Guest inside. Then you find out the Honored Guest is YOU.

To sum up – get your Do’s and Don’ts in order. Next concentrate on the Body, and the breath. Then go inward and center. Finally meditate and become One with Yourself and the Divine.

Simple steps – not always easy – but worth the effort - in order to find your BLISS – your True Self.

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