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Yoga 101

The eight limbs of yoga or also known as ashtanga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi) is the foundation of yoga. The word yoga itself rooted from a sanskrit word of Yuj means union.

Oh friend, understand: the body is like the ocean, rich with hidden treasures.
Open your innermost chamber and light its lamp…       
                
                                                            The Essential Mystics, Harper Collins, 1998

The sanskrit root of YOGA is YUJ means to bind, to join, union. As explained in the book Light On Yoga by BKS Iyengar, it’s the unity of all the powers of the body, mind and soul to God, disciplining the intellect, the mind, the emotions and the will.  It enables one to look at life in all  aspects evenly.

To start yoga, you don’t need to have the flexibility and concentration.  In fact, anyone, regardless of age, sex, or physical ability can do it. As you practice yoga routinely, your muscles and joints will gain flexibility and you’ll need less effort to come into a pose.  But, if you suffer from any specific medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before practicing.  Ask for their expert advice on the best appropriate number of hours and frequency of yoga practice to specially suit your physical condition.

Some people say that the best time to perform the asanas (postures) is in the morning before you start your daily routine.   Some others think the foremost element is discipline, and allocating time to really practice without any disruption.  Do you really have the time and space for your own practice?

There are EIGHT STEPS OF YOGA (ASHTANGA), the first one that becomes the root of ashtanga is YAMAS – to speak the truth, to refrain from violence and stealing.  And then there is NIYAMAS –the importance for one to keep the purity of the body and mind, to study or gain knowledge, and to surrender the ego.

The next step is ASANAS – literally means comfortable seating or steady poses. There are hundreds of asana (postures) and each one of them has its own benefits to our body. It is globally accepted by doctors that you are as young as your spine, so maintain the flexibility of your spine, where the nervous system channels, by practicing asana.  Asanas work the same way as acupuncture, the different poses put pressure on various points, if you practice them regularly  and correctly you’ll gain the benefit.

Moving on half way, PRANAYAMA – is the control of vital energy through breathing exercise. Here is the big picture of yogic breathing; when you inhale fully, you are supplying an abundance of oxygen – essential to every cell in the body. When you exhale, the waste products are being expelled.   Therefore, you should concentrate on the exhalation and give time to dispel the bad stuff out of your body system.  In the end, the breathing techniques in yoga will also awake potential energy stored inside you and help physical and mental rejuvenation.

The fifth step of ashtanga contains PRATYAHARA – withdrawal of senses or detachment from the worldly desires, follows by DHARANA – concentration of the mind.   DHYANA comes in the 7th step which simply means meditation and SAMADHI, the last step, is about super-conscious state. In Samadhi, you are fully aware of yourself and your mind while at the same time you distribute your soul towards the body.  You do not become empty or thoughtless, your mind stays active.

To do meditation you don’t have to find a quiet corner, it can be performed in asanas. The essence is to control the mind through controlled breathing.  The combined breath and poses leads to movement meditation. It is about combining all the eight limbs of yoga (ashtanga). All in all, it helps develop mental clarity – the essential prerequisite for peace of mind.

by jakartadoyoga.com team, editted by samira

 

Jakartadoyoga, Yoga Studio, Iyengar, Jakarta, Indonesia