Similar to a human body, Raja Yoga has the eight different limbs. The Eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. You must observe all the eight limbs to experience the benefit of attaining spiritual state for your well being.
All the parts of your body moves automatically whenever you do the action of stepping forward. In the same manner, if you practices one limb of yoga system to a highest degree of perfection, rest of all the limbs of Yoga system are bound to accompany without much effort.
Yama and Niyama, the first two limbs of Raja Yoga, are the very foundation for the yoga systems and for the yoga practice. May it be any yoga system, Gnana yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Karma Yoga are any other Yoga discipline, the two limbs – Yama and Niyama are the most important ones to be meticulously observed.
When a person desires to practice Yogaasanas, he should at least observe and practice strictly the Yama discipline. Thus, the observance of Yama creates the needed externally congenial and conducive atmosphere for the practice of Yogasanas.
Caution: Yogasanas and other yogic activities should not be practiced when you are disturbed due to fear, anxiety, fatigue or tiresomeness. You can overcome above problems by practising Yama limb.
First in eight limbs is Yama. Yama limb constitutes
- Ahimsa: Observance non-injury through thought, word and deed.
- Satyam: Truth fullness at all times under all the circumstances.
- Brahmacharya: All round self control
- Asteya: Non steeling
- Aparigraha: Non-acceptance of free gifts which are not essential
External congenial atmosphere alone is not sufficient to practice yogasanas. That means, Yama limb alone is not sufficient. Internal serenity of the mind is also quiet essential. The internal serenity can be obtained by the practice of the second limb of Raja Yoga system, that is Niyama
Second in eight limbs is Niyama. Niyama limb constitutes
- Soucha: Internal and External purity
- Santosh: Contentment
- Tapas: Austerity
- Swadhyaya: Self study, study of religious books
- Iswara pranidhan: Surrender to God
Thus, these two disciplines Yama and Niyama, are very very important and unavoidable prerequisites for the practice of yoga.
Asana and pranayama are the third and fourth limbs of Raja Yoga, respectively.
While practising yogasanas, there should not be any rapid moment of limbs of the body or any sort of jerks in the body. By such a slow and steady practice of asanas, the breathing process gets regulated automatically.
During the practice of Yogasanas, the mind should not think about any programmes and engagements or any other external objects. Withdrawal of your mind from any external objects and concentration on a single thought is known as Pratyahara. Pratyahara is fifth limb of Raja Yoga.
The very nature of the mind is extroversion. So, while practising yogasanas, you should concentrate on relevant parts of your body according to the nature of the asana.
Concentrate on a particular object for a short period of time is called Dharana. Similarly concentration on a particular object for a long period is called Dhyana. Dharana and Dhyana are the sixth and seventh limb of Raja Yoga respectively.
Practising of all the seven limbs of Raja Yoga, getting into mode of Samadhi or Supreme Harmony is natural consequence. Samadhi is the eighth limb of the Raja Yoga.
Bending body parts merely cannot constitute yogasanas, there should be a proper & judicious blending of all the eight limbs of Raja Yoga. When you observe these eight limbs, the destruction of impurities in your body, mind got effected and then you can experience the highest possibility of spiritual state.
If you find difficulty in practising Yogasanas, you can go through the home page of this blog to know about the training program called Thought Management System by Raj Punarvasi.