Here, we will explore the essence of pranayama – the skill of manipulating life force. Unveil the techniques, significance, and transformative effects of breath control, enriching both practice and life.
The eight limbs of yoga, are outlined in the second chapter (Sadhana Pada), the portion on practice, of the Yoga Sutras. Each limb represents a different aspect of the yogic path, guiding us toward self-realisation. SELF ALIGNMENT 1 YAMA: is a set or restraints or disciplines. 2 NIYAMA: is a set of personal observances or duties. Both the yamas and niyamas, help cultivate inner harmony, keeping us aligned on the path of least resistance. POSTURE PRACTICE 3 ASANA: The practice of physical postures, promotes steadiness and comfort, which helps the overall health and balance of the body. FORCE MANIPULATION 4 PRANAYAMA: Pranayama involves breath control and regulation. Through specific breathing techniques, practitioners learn to control their life force energy (prana) and attain greater mental clarity and focus. SENSE WITHDRAWAL 5 PRATYAHARA: By turning inward and minimising external distractions, we prepare for deeper states of concentration and meditation. MIND CONTROL 6 DHARANA: refers to concentration, where the mind is focused on a single object or point. This practice cultivates the ability to hold the mind's attention steadily, setting the stage for meditation. 7 DHYANA: is the state of uninterrupted flow of awareness towards the chosen object of focus. It involves sustained attention and an immersive experience in the present moment. 8 SAMDHI: Samadhi is the ultimate state of self-realisation. It represents a state of union with universal consciousness. We will cover the 8 in detail and consistently reference the sutras throughout the SKILLS section to ensure a deep understanding and application of these principles. Once you've covered the whole of SKILLS, take the time to read chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras in its entirety. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of the context and interconnections between the different limbs of yoga.
By engaging in the practice of the eight limbs of yoga, we can effectively navigate and overcome the obstacles, known as kleshas, that hinder our journey towards self-realisation. To explore each of these obstacles further, simply click on the respective images below.
While the eight limbs of yoga find their origin in the Yoga Sutras, it's noteworthy that the Bhagavad Gita presents comparable principles in its sixth chapter. Below are some relevant quotes, and I encourage you to explore chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita. Once you've completed the whole section of SKILLS, re-read taking time to contemplate the teachings and their practical implications for yoga practice.
Remember that true understanding comes through experience. After understaning the obstacles; Avidya (Ignorance): Practice self-awareness and mindfulness to identify areas where you lack understanding or knowledge. Seek to educate yourself and cultivate a deeper awareness of yourself and the world around you. Asmita (Ego): Practice humility and self-reflection. When you notice your ego asserting itself, take a step back and remind yourself that your identity is not solely defined by external achievements or opinions. Raga (Attachment): Practice detachment and non-attachment. Identify areas in your life where you might be overly attached to outcomes, people, or possessions. Cultivate the ability to let go and find contentment within. Dvesha (Aversion): Practice acceptance and open-mindedness. When you feel aversion towards something, try to understand the underlying reasons and see if there's a way to approach it with a more neutral perspective. Abhinivesha (Fear of Death or Clinging to Life): Practice living in the present moment. Fear often stems from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Embrace each moment fully and work on accepting the impermanent nature of life.
Once you've completed the above, test your comprehension of the theoretical concepts below. This testing phase will help solidify your understanding and application of the knowledge you've acquired.