Yoga means union – it’s practice seeks to unite all aspects of the person (mind, body, and soul) via the practice of eight disciplines; thereby, facilitating our ability to live our lives from the point of love (i.e. creativity).

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha yoga appeared as a complete system in India around the 6th century AD. Although, it was mentioned as early as 3000 BC  in the Rig Veda and then in the 6th century BC in the Upanishads.

This science of purification is a system of practices developed to prepare an individual to enter higher levels of consciousness and to aid the evolution of mankind.
Practicing hatha yoga clears the body of impurities in order that prana (universal life force) could travel unimpeded through the nadis (pathways) within the body.

When prana flows freely through the nadis an absolute balance of mental, physical and spiritual states is reached and evolution of consciousness occurs.

Hatha yoga consists of 8 limbs:

  • Yamas – ethical observations
  • Niyamas – self observations
  • Asanas – poses
  • Pranayama – breathing
Pratyahara – sense withdrawal
Dharana – contemplation
  • Dhyana – meditation
  • Samadhi – absorption into the universal

These are to be practiced in order. It will be difficult to observe the final four limbs without first practicing the first four limbs (yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayama).
The truth of yoga is known through practice, not intellectual analysis.

Eight Limbs of Yoga

1. Yamas – Ethical Observations

  • Ahimsa – non-violence
  • Satya – not lying  
  • Asteya – not stealing
  • Bramacharya – moderation in all things
  • Aprarigraha – non-possessiveness

2. Niyamas – Self Observations

  • Saucha – cleanliness
  • Santosa – contentment
  • Tapas – spiritual austerities, heat
  • Svadhyaya – study of self
  • Isvara Pranidhana – surrender to God

3. Asanas – Poses

  • Physical stretches that open the body and break through granthis (blocks: attachment to possessions, people, thinking one has special abilities)
  • Help develop control over mind and body
  • Clear nadis
  • Soothe nerves

4. Pranayama – Breathing

  • Breath observation, control, extension
  • Frees mind from thinking
  • Raises prana to higher levels of self actualization
  • Strengthens respiratory system
  • Soothes nerves

5. Pratyahara – Sense Withdrawal

  • Control of senses, prana, action, and withdrawal of the mind from the senses
  • Aids in becoming less fearful, free from anger, more truthful, gentle, tranquil, generous, and humble

6. Dharana – Contemplation

  • Achieve union with the Universal by focusing energy solely on the object being contemplated, without interruption
  • Becoming one with the object of contemplation

7. Dhyana – Meditation

  • Being present
  • No analysis, measurement, judgement, comparison
  • Neti Neti Neti (I am not this thought. I am not this thought thinking I am not this thought. I am not thought at all!)

8. Samadhi – Absorption into the Universal

  • Freedom from samsara (conditioned thoughts and behaviours)
  • Understanding all perspectives
  • Shanti (peace)
  • Enlightenment