By practicing yoga, we can achieve what everyone yearns for – peace, bliss, contentment, and good health.
There are eight steps of yoga, often referred to as the eight limbs of yoga, which delineate the steps to achieving the highest goal.
These eight steps, which were documented in the Devi Gita and other scriptures, provide guidance on how to live a spiritual, meaningful, and healthy life.
By following these eight limbs, our lives will become more organized and we will find more time to meditate and practice tapasya (spiritual austerities).
These eight steps provide an excellent foundation for our yoga practice:
- Yama – Take control of your life by defining goals. It is not possible to find a path until we know what the goal is. We have to organize our life so we have the time and desire to practice. The process of union begins with a clear definition of the goal. In addition, there are ten aspects of Yama described in the Devi Gita, which outline the ideal qualities of a spiritual aspirant.
- Niyama – Create a discipline and use the time you have created to consistently do your practice. We must budget our time, budget our resources, and budget our mind so that we can decide how to dedicate our lives to the pursuit each goal.
- Asana – Practice Hatha Yoga, which is the physical postures, and treat your body like a temple. When the body is steady and relaxed, it will be easy to sit down in one meditative posture.
- Pranayama – Practice the various breathing techniques to make the breath and mind steady. Through the breath, become aware of the connection between body, mind, and spirit.
- Pratyahara – Let your awareness and your senses withdraw from external objects to focus your attention inside. In practicing the other limbs of Yoga, such as Pranayama, the senses will begin to cease looking outside. This gives you the opportunity to observe yourself and look within.
- Dharana – Collect all of the different thoughts in the mind and concentrate on one of them. In Dharana there are three: the meditator, the object of meditation, and the relationship between them.
- Dhyana – Merge into deeper meditation, where there are only two: the meditator and the object of meditation. The relationship between the meditator and the object of meditation becomes so deep that it is intuitively understood.
- Samadhi – Become totally absorbed, where there is only One. Samadhi is total absorption and union between the meditator and the object of meditation. This is a state which can only be experienced, not explained – it is known as “Sat Chit Ananda,” or Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.
A great place to start learning a practice is to follow the Holistic Yoga Practice that Swami Satyananda Saraswati teaches. This practice incorporates physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation practices, which eventually lead the spiritual aspirant into union with the Divine.
Make a disciplined practice of yoga to enjoy peace, bliss, contentment and better health!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!