The eight steps of yoga are like a roadmap for personal growth, combining self-discipline and interconnected practices. Let’s break them down practically.
Yam (Conscious Behaviour): This is about channelling your life energy wisely. Conscious behaviour also means that in daily life becoming more conscious about one’s actions. There are two types of action: one is reaction and one is response. We need to move more and more towards the response that is Yama.
To practise it in daily life start by being aware of your impulses and reactions. Practise a simple exercise: Before reacting impulsively, take a deep breath. This pause allows you to respond consciously, not impulsively.
Niyam (Regularity): Niyam advocates for a disciplined and regular life. Patanjali emphasises that true freedom arises from inner discipline. A life without regularity becomes a slave to instincts and fleeting thoughts.
A simple way to practise Niyam is to establish a daily routine. Set aside time for reflection, gratitude, and self-care. A practical exercise is to create a daily ritual, like a morning routine. It could include a few minutes of mindfulness, setting positive intentions for the day, or expressing gratitude.
Asana (Body Posture): Physical posture is vital for mental well-being. Asana helps to take care of the body by moving it in all directions but it’s more than that ; it symbolises the ability to sit in stillness, free from the body’s disturbances.
Try a basic sitting posture for meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands on your knees, and focus on your breath. This simple posture can enhance your concentration.
Pranayam (Breath Regulation): Breath is a bridge between body and mind. By regulating the breath, practitioners gain control over their life energy, experiencing a transformation in their mental and emotional states. Practise mindful breathing exercises.
One example is diaphragmatic breathing: Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand, then exhale slowly through your mouth. This practice calms the nervous system.
Pratyahara (Moving in Returning home): Disconnecting from external distractions from time to time helps to connect with in, To bring this step in life in an easy way Take Short breaks from technology.
A practical exercise is to designate specific times for checking emails or social media, creating intentional periods of detachment. Sometimes closing your eyes and pay attention to your senses like feeling taste, just listening to the sound and just smelling an essence or flower is part of Pratyahara.
Dharana (Concentration): Train your mind to focus on something that is Dharna. Start with a simple object or your breath. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back. A practical exercise is to focus on a single point for a few minutes each day, gradually extending the duration.
Dhyana (Meditation): Move beyond concentration into a state of meditation. Begin by becoming aware of your body as it is right now; feel it. Next, shift your focus to your breath. Relax your breath and become fully aware of it. Now, turn your attention inward and notice the thoughts that are currently present. Take note of any emotions that may be arising within you.
Becoming aware of your body marks the first step, followed by bringing attention to your breath as the second step. The third step involves directing your awareness to your thoughts and emotions, observing them without attachment, and staying in the role of a witness. This process is meditation.
Practice regularly, allowing thoughts to come and go without attachment. It’s like letting a river flow without holding onto the passing thoughts.
Samadhi (Trance): Achieve a state of blissful awareness. This is the ultimate goal where a person feels that he is part of this universe. This is also an awakening of love and compassion in the heart for the world .
As a practical exercise, spend a few moments each day in silence or in communion with nature, sky, water, trees and animals cultivating a sense of connection with everything around you. Start connecting with yourself and others with love and compassion brings samadhi in daily life.
These steps are like building blocks. Progress at your own pace, and don’t rush. The beauty lies in their interrelation, Every step gets you ready for the next one. Also, if you begin with one step, you’ll notice the other steps quietly coming in through a backdoor, creating a holistic approach to personal and spiritual growth.
Deep “A Yogi Friend”
Yoga New Vision
Deep Kumar Ji, YNV Lead Master Teacher
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