Yoga is often thought of as the physical practice/postures (asana) and a form of exercise, but it’s so much more than that.
Yoga is a philosophy, a way of life, a system created thousands of years ago. In the Yoga Sutras; a text compiled by Patanjali, (an Indian sage, and sometimes referred to as the father of modern yoga); 196 Sutras are described exploring the essential nature of yoga. The Sutras set out a systematic approach to life, to creating balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms, individuals and beyond.
The 8 limbs of yoga
Within the Sutras, Patanjali outlined 8 ‘limbs’ of yoga for creating harmony and balance:
1 Yamas-ethical and social guide: ahimsa (non-violence, satya (truthfulness), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (moderation), aparigraha (not hoarding).
2 Niyamas-personal observances: shaucha (purification), santosha (contentment), tapas (asceticism) svadhyaya (self-study), ishvara pranidhana (devotion).
3 Asana-practice of physical postures.
4 Pranayama-control of the breath; breath practices, breathing techniques.
5 Pratyahara-disassociating from sensory attachment, or turning inwards via senses withdrawal.
6 Dharana-concentration beyond either internal or external distractions.