The 8 Branches of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient discipline dating back to 200 B.C., with considerable research indicating a wide range of possible health benefits, including reduced pain and stress, increased energy and improved flexibility. Traditionally, there are eight branches, or limbs, of yoga that are meant to bring unity to the mind, body and spirit. Rather than focusing only on the physical aspects of yoga – poses – we incorporate all eight branches into our yoga classes to help you achieve unity and wholeness in your life.
1. Yama – Personal Conduct/Morals
The first branch focuses on our behavior and morals – right use of energy, as well as not stealing, lying, grasping or causing harm.
2. Niyama – Self-Purification
Practicing cleanliness, contentment, self-study and ridding yourself of excess can help you live in the moment and be at one with your higher power.
3. Asana – Poses
This is the branch most people use to define yoga, focusing on the body and often condensing or even ignoring many of the other branches.
4. Pranayama – Breathing Practices
By learning how to control your breath, you can take control of your body and better manage mental, physical and emotional issues, such as stress and pain.
5. Pratyahara – Relieving External Distraction
When you eliminate distractions like technology or the desire/need to talk, you can find peace and self-awareness.
6. Dharana – Focused Concentration
After eliminating external distractions, you can work to slow down your thinking and address distractions of the mind.
7. Dhyana – Oneness
The uninterrupted flow of consciousness, sometimes referred to as meditation, is a state of awareness without focus, where the mind generates few or no thoughts.
8. Samadhi – Total Bliss
While it can seem out of reach initially, you can experience a state of enlightenment or peace and interconnectedness with the Universe and all living things.
When you attend yoga classes at Integrated Counseling and Wellness, we work with you to help you move through each of these eight branches. We bring a patient, compassionate approach and knowledgeable, certified instructors so that, no matter your skill or experience level, you can find peace, healing and growth in body, mind and spirit.
Learn more about Yoga Classes in our studio.