With the goal of reaching the finer knowledge and understanding of Reality the yogi needs to follow the eightfold path, which is called ashtanga yoga.
(Sage Patanjali, the author of yoga sutras)
Ashtanga yoga consists of eight limbs, which gives you a guide to reach the ultimate goal – union with the divine. You can see the eight limbs as a tree where it´s necessary to start the climbing from the roots in order to develop and get to the top. In this posting we give you the first four limbs, which create the base and concentrate on refining our personalities, gaining mastery over the body and developing an energetic awareness of ourselves. These first four steps also are part of Hatha Yoga.
1. Five Yamas
Moral regulations. They can also be seen as the universal Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
Ahimsa – Nonviolence
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Non-stealing
Brahmacarya – Continence
Aparigraha – Non-coveting (free of greed)
2. Five Niyamas
Self-dicipline and spiritual observances. For example personal meditation practices, regular religious acts etc.
Saucha – Cleanliness
Santosha – Contentment
Tapas – Austerity
Svadhyaya – Scriptural study and study of oneself
Isvara pranidhana – Surrender to God
Physical postures practiced in yoga, which are meant to relax the body and to activate and strengthen various organs in the body. The purpose of asana practice is to prepare the body for meditation.
Breath regulation. Controlling the breathing process with pranayama leads to the connection between body, mind and emotions, and it makes one´s mind calm and ready for meditation.
The purpose of these first four limbs is to prepare us for the second half of the journey dealing with senses, mind and consciousness. More about it tomorrow!