Most of us associate Asanas with Yoga when in reality Asanas is only one of the eight limbs of Yoga. Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga or 8 limbed Yoga is divided into bahiranga and antaranga Yoga. The first 5 limbs i.e. yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara are called bahiranga leading dharana, dhyana and Samadhi (that are more internal compared to the earlier five).
Nevertheless doing Asanas has many benefits. They improve flexibility of body, strengthen muscles, lubricate joints and thus help keep the musculo-skeletal systems healthy. Important they make the mind calm and quietly facilitate emotional control and intellectual clarity.
Personally speaking I have benefitted greatly by trying to follow the eight limbs of yoga. The first two have made me ambitious yet content, calm, happy with a zest for life. Asanas keep me fit, made my body flexible and remove minor pains here and there. Importantly they make me feel sthir or stable which in turn has stabilized the mind and helped me look inwards. Another very positive effect of doing asanas is that my posture has improved; stand erect because of which friends say I have grown taller inspite of being in my 40’s. Pranayama has really helped my overall state of body and mind. If I ever get up with a headache pranayama helps me feel better. By learning to concentrate I have increased productivity in all spheres of life. It has also improved my multi-tasking skills. Whenever I am confused sit down, close my eyes and meditate – try not to think of anything. Sooner than later Ishwar shows me the way!
Kaivalyadhama Lonavla Maharashtra has come out with a book that gives you a brief introduction to the eight limbs of Yoga.
•Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga & Human Life – an Overview by Dr N. Ganesh Rao.
•Patanjali’s Yama (social discipline) – in Modern Perspective by Shri G.S. Sahay.
•Niyama (binding rules) – in Modern Perspective by Shri B R Sharma.
•Asana – an important and Integral Part of Yoga by Dr Rajvi H Mehta.
•Pranayama (regulation of life force) by Shri Om Prakash Tiwari.
•Pratyahara (senses become introvert like the mind) by Dr Veena Londhe.
•Dharana (concentration) by Dr H R Nagendra.
•Dhyana (meditation) – Practical tips for beginners by R S Bhogal
•Samadhi by Dr Ishwar V Basavaraddi.
•Insights in the Practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga by Shri B.K.S. Iyengar.
What is the purpose of Yoga? To achieve Samadhi, simply put to free oneself from the continuous process of life and death.
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Courtesy and Copyright Rotary International, District 3140 and Kaivalyadhama. To know more about Kaivalyadhama visit their site www.kdham.com