Yoga is one of the oldest forms of personal development in the world and has been practised in India for over two millennia. It is an ancient art based on an extremely subtle science, one of the body, mind and soul.
The word Yoga means to join or unite and so signifies the integration of all parts of the human being - harmony at every level. In philosophical terms, the union of the individual self with the universal self is Yoga.
The Paths of Yoga
There are various Paths of Yoga, some of a devotional nature (Bhakti Yoga), some seeking self realization through knowledge (Jnana Yoga), dutiful action (Karma Yoga) or through sounds and vibrations (Mantra Yoga). Hatha Yoga, which literally means sun and moon, or Raja (‘kingly’) Yoga is concerned with control of the mind and the physical body. The goal is to bring the body and mind into a perfect state of health so the soul has a fitting vehicle of expression. It embraces many practices, including physical postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). The postures (asanas) are a means of improving health, which can then be used to enhance one’s spiritual journey or to help one live a more enjoyable and harmonious life.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Yoga comprises of eight limbs. These are;
- Universal ethical principles (Yama)
- Rules of personal conduct (Niyama)
- The practice of Yoga postures (Asana)
- The practice of Yoga breathing techniques (Pranayama)
- Control of the Senses (Pratyahara)
- Concentration of the mind (Dharana)
- Meditation (Dhyana)
- Absorption in the Infinite (Samadhi)
“Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul, create the symphony of life.”
Lord Yehudi Menuhin, violionist and long-time friend and pupil of BKS Iyengar
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