What is Yoga?
Typically when we think of yoga we think of a bunch of stretching and breathing. It is so much more than that. In the ancient system of yoga one is taking the path to reaching their full potential as a human being. The streching is only one of eigth parts or limbs in the path of yoga. Wether or not you want to jump into the full path of youga or if you want to simply practice the poses you wil definitely find many benefits!
This part deals with one’s ethics and integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. these are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
This is self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending spiritual services or events, routine prayer, developing your own personal meditation practices, studying spiritual texts.
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
These are the postures practiced in yoga. In the yogic view, the body is a temple of spirit, the care of which is very important for spiritual growth. Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline, the ability to concentrate, learn how to breath, and prepare teh nervous system for higher states of conciousness all of which are necessary for meditation. In these practices we return to our naturla alignment and break down the postural problems we developed through the years and experiences. It is a returning to ourselves and our higher alignment.
Breath control, this consists of techniques designed to manipulate the respiratory process and recognize the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. The literal translation of pranayama is “life force extension,” it not only rejuvenates the body but actually extends life itself.
Withdrawal of the sensory world. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuliation. Aware of our senses, but directing our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves. This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe our different impulses, (Vasanas) cravings: habits that obstruct us from inner growth.
Pratyahara prepares us deeper meditation. Having learnt how to pull ourselves away from external distractions we begin the practice of concentration, which precedes meditation, we learn how to slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object: a specific energetic center in the body, an image of a deity, or the silent repetition of a sound. We have already begun to develop our powers of concentration in the previous three stages of posture, breath control, and withdrawal of the senses. In asana and pranayama, we pay attention to our actions, but our attention travels. Our focus constantly shifts as we fine-tune the manysubtleties of the posture or breathing technique. In pratyahara we become self-observant, but in dharana, we focus our attention on a single point, without wavering. Extended periods of concentration will naturally lead to meditation.
Meditation or contemplation, is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, there is a difference. Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware and complete absorption into whatever one was focused on. At this point, the mind has been quieted, and in the stillness it produces few or no thoughts at all. There is a constant funinterupted flow of awareness or conciusness towards the object of meditation.
Simply put a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the ego altogether. The meditator comes to realize a profound connection to the Divine within all living things. With this realization comes a deep level of peace; the experience of bliss and being at one with the Universe.
Chanting practice to calm your mind
Below is a simple Aum chanting practice to calm down anxiety or stress and re-align you to your higher self. It's not long, only 7 minutes, and after chanting along just see how you feel. Enjoy....