The 8 Limbs of Yoga
As I begin my final semester at USF, I thought Yoga would be a relaxing filler in my schedule. After the first day I left the class feeling relaxed and enlightened. It is true that yoga is a great way to stay fit, but it does more than you would initially think as a holistic experience.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga are guidelines to live a purposeful life and reach the ultimate goal of becoming one with the Universe. The 8 Limbs deal with morale, ethics, and self-discipline.
The first limb Yama, deals with ethical standards and makes you aware of your behavior. This limb also deals with the Golden Rule, “do to others as you would want done on to you.”
The second limb Niyama, deals with self-discipline. This is the stage where you are developing spiritual or meditational practices. Yoga experts also say contemplative walks are beneficial during this stage.
Asana is the third limb that focuses on posture with the idea that the body is the temple of the spirit. In this stage you develop discipline and concentration.
The fourth limb Pranayama, focuses on breath control. These breathing techniques create skill in the respiratory process. During these techniques you will gain an understanding of the connection between the mind, breath, and emotions. Yoga experts also believe this practice has the ability to expand your life span.
Pratyahara, the fifth limb deals with the withdrawal from your senses. In this stage you are withdrawing awareness of the outside world to detach yourself from your senses. The detachment from your senses leads you to direct your focus internally.
The sixth limb Dharana, focuses on concentration and deals with the internal distractions or distractions of the mind. In this stage you are focusing on a specific energetic center in the body or the repetition of a sound.
The seventh limb Dhyana, causes you to stay aware without focus. In this stage your mind is quieted and you are not producing thoughts.
In the eighth and final limb Samadhi, you are transcending yourself. This is known as the Ecstasy stage, where you discover a profound connection to divine and interconnectedness with all living things. At the end of this stage you should feel one with the Universe.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga help with stress, confidence, and finding purpose. During my transitional phase (leaving College and entering the “real world”) I can apply the tools I learn in Yoga to live a more fulfilled and healthy lifestyle. I recommend the class to all students, especially student-athletes.