The Eight Limbs of Yoga: Part 2
Lots of you have already read part 1 of the Eight Limbs which I posted a few weeks ago. Sorry for the delay in posting the second half but I've only just found a few moments to draw it all together and write it up properly for you. So now you know about the first 4, lets delve into the second half!
The fifth limb is the withdrawal of the mind from senses, or put more simply, consciously bringing our awareness inwards and detaching from external stimuli. It allows us to connect with and understand ourselves and come to separate from the distractions of the world around us. Take a yoga practice for example: as you move through each asana, your teacher will encourage you to focus on the breath. This allows us to focus on the experience of the present moment without interference from other factors, preparing us for the next stage, which is dharana, or concentration.
Pratyahara allows us to remove external distraction. Dharana is about relieving the internal disctractions created by our own minds. Each limb or stage up until this point, has been preparing our concentration, allowing us to develop a sense of concentration. This in turn will prepare us for the next limb, where extended focused concentration will allow us to enter into meditation.
Dhyana is the practice of meditation, whereby we enter a state of heightened awareness without distraction or a specific focus. It relies on the development of a quiet mind where not even our own thoughts provide us with a distraction. To many, this may seem like an impossible state, and of course it can be hugely challenging, however most of us will continue to work with our mediation practice over an extended period of time, learning how to bring ourselves into and maintain this peaceful state.
Finally we have samadhi, where we eventually transcend the self and experience a state of bliss, or 'enlightenment', allowing us to be at peace and in oneness with the world and all that it beholds. This 'goal' of yoga is experienced as a result of devotion to yoga and may or may not be achievable within this lifetime. However, to be moving along a path towards contentment is a beautiful thing and really is what a yoga practice is about.
What are your thoughts on the 8 limbs? Do you feel as though yoga serves more than a physical purpose in your life? I would love to hear what you think, so leave any comments below!