What is Yoga?

‘I can’t practice yoga, I’m not flexible.’ That’s the most common frase I hear from people that haven’t yet been introduced to yoga. Despite all of the bendy and twisty photos you may have seen, the truth is that you don’t have to be flexible, or able to stand on your head, to practice yoga. In fact, being inflexible is one of the best reasons to begin a practice. Most of us aren’t born with the ability to touch our toes to our heads or balance on our hands, but with time, patience, and practice, you can develop the strength and flexibility to get there. But it’s rarely the reason why most yogis do their practice since yoga can be more than just a physical exercise.

Last weekend I finished my last part of yoga teacher training and I started thinking why I love yoga. I mean I love to move, I love to breath, I love to feel. And I love the beauty of yoga and despite of all the controversy I post yoga pictures and get inspired by yogis way beyond my practice. But that is not what keeps me going back on the mat. It’s something deeper than that. It’s it ideology behind the physical practice. And I want to share with you what else yoga teaches than just asana practice.

Actually the beautiful yoga poses, that we see are only one of the eight ‘limbs’ of yoga. There are seven additional components to the practice, each of equal importance. All the components belong to the same body, each one is essential, none is higher than the other and together they form the framework for the yoga practice that ultimately bring unity of the mind, body, and spirit.

The eight limbs of Yoga are:
1. Yama: Ethic rules of moral code. Iinclude ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (sexual restraint), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
2. Niyama:Self-discipline. rules of personal behavior including saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (discipline or austerity), svadhyaya (spiritual studies), and Ishvara Pranidhana (constant devotion to God).
3. Asanas: Physical postures to help discipline body for meditation.
4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises to control prana.
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses. Non-attachment to external objects.
6. Dharana: Cultivating inner awareness and learning to focus our attention.
7. Dhyana: Meditation.
8. Samadhi: State of Oneness. Transcending the self, and realizing an interconnection to all living things. Merging with the divine.
I hope this inspires you to try yoga. The heart and soul of yoga is simple. Share love, kindness and compassion. For fun you may also twist and bend your body in fun shapes!

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