The 8 Limbs of Yoga Journey
Samadhi is the final realization of the Self, the last limb of the 8 limbs of yoga journey. When we reach Samadhi, we are absorbed in the highest state of consciousness, or enlightenment. Take an 8 limbs of yoga journey with me.
How do we get there? We need to follow the five Yamas (the social ethics), the five Niyamas (observances), master the yoga asana (postures), and master pranayama (yoga breathing). And then are we done? No! Yoga is a lifelong journey to the Self. Let’s explore the four limbs that will take us deeper into the Self and lead us to enlightenment.
The Steps to the 8 Limbs of Yoga Journey
- Pratyahara– Turning Inward, sense withdrawal. To live pratyahara, we control our mind’s impulses and desires and the stimuli coming in through our senses. We learn to master our senses. When I taste chocolate, my tongue says “more please.” But if my intellect says “not right now,” then I have governed my senses with intellect.
Pratyahara Practice from The Yoga Mind (paid link) by Rina Jakubowicz: Enjoy this meditation. Sit on your yoga mat with your spine tall. Close your eyes and become aware of your taste. Do not judge, just observe. Shift to your sense of hearing. Listen without adding stories. Move to the sense of smell. Don’t add preferences, just observe. Then go to the sense of sight. Even with the eyes close we can sense colors, lights, and darkness. Finally, move to the sense of touch. Notice the clothes on your skin, your hair, hot or cold sensations. Notice without attachments or desire. Take five deep breaths, open the eyes, and return to the present.
2. Dharana– Concentration, focusing or attention. We concentrate toward our ideal- self-enlightenment. Concentration means your intellect is strong enough to keep your mind focused on one thought and avoid all the distractions.
Try this Dharana practice from The Yoga Mind (paid link) . When we react to something emotionally, ask:
- Can I stop what I’m doing right now?
- Do I want to get out this emotion?
- If the answers are no, come back later when the answers are yes and answer the following:
- What emotion or thought has taken over me?
- It is useful?
- What is the unfulfilled desire I have right now?
- What is my intellect saying I should do?
Now you can move forward with action!
3. Dhyana– Meditation. This is our last step in the 8 limbs of yoga journey toward Samadhi. When we meditate, we should lose the identifications with our body, mind, and intellect. Now we identify with the Self. Dhyana is deeper than 10, 15 min a day practice. Those practices are good for keeping the mind calm, focused, and relaxed, but to reach Samadhi, we need to do more along our 8 limbs of yoga journey. When we are in true meditation long enough, we enter Samadhi.
“Trying to meditate with a head full of desires is like a plane trying to take off with too much cargo. Planes must offload the cargo to take flight. Just as humans must offload their desires to be able to meditate.”Swami A Parthasarathy
4. Samadhi– And our journey has finished with enlightenment. We have completed the 8 limbs of yoga journey. Samadhi happens when we have been fully purified by the wisdom gained. We transcend the body, mind, and intellect entirely.
“Yoga is the journey of the Self, through the Self, to the Self.”
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