Yoga at Shreyas is a ‘journey of self-discovery’ and meditation is the goal of yoga. Yoga for us is not just ‘hatha yoga’ and ‘astanga yoga’ or other popular forms of yoga but the eight limbs of yoga (Astanga Yoga : asta – eight, anga – limb) namely: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Prathyahara, Dharana and Samadhi. Samadhi, absorption or union with the higher self, is the goal of yoga. Yoga is union – union of the mere self with the higher self and, unless one understands the cause for the disconnect between our higher and lower self, all the techniques and practices won’t get us there. By understanding is meant, direct perception and not just intellectual understanding. So, while we go through a systematic practice of yoga, which comprises of asana, pranayama etc., we should always bear in mind that yama and niyama (the do and don’ts), the first two limbs are as important as the other six limbs and the entire process is meant to be integrated with it for us to attain our goal – samadhi.

The question is – what is preventing us from being one with the self?

Yoga says – nothing outside of us is the cause for that, mind is the cause for both our happiness and suffering too. And mind is not separate from the body; our body is the extension of our mind. Hence, we need to understand the relationship between the body and the mind. This is possible only when we understand the body from within, by connecting with it during our asana practice. When we pay attention to the body as we practice postures, we understand the fact that some of our limitations have their origin in the mind and comes from our emotional baggage.

During asana practice, when we stretch our bodies beyond our perceived limitations, we overcome many of our fears and limitations. Yoga doesn’t recommend extremes and it is better to avoid overdoing as we may injure, hurt ourselves in the process; yoga is better done under the supervision of trained experts as they take us through the process systematically. Practitioners can make use of props like belt, blocks or bolsters, while trying difficult postures as props help us accomplish it with ease.

In our next article, we shall discuss the process of pramayama.

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