According to the Vedanta Tradition, the word yoga is explained as a union between the individual self and the transcendental, or abstract, spiritual self. For some, yoga means a happy state of mind, where we can connect to our true selves and the divine in every of us. For others, yoga is only the practice of postures (asanas). Yoga is a spiritual path rooted in more than five thousand years of rich tradition, philosophy and wisdom. The philosophy of this magnificent tradition was captured in the Yoga Sutras (sutras, means thread or style of writing)
In the Sutras, there are eight limbs that assist in our journey towards a more fulfilling and happy life. They include: Yamas (moral observances), Niyamas (personal restrains and spiritual observances), Asanas (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation – contemplation) and Samadhi (state of ecstasy).
Yamas: there are five moral observances that act as the foundation of the spiritual path. These include ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (abstinence), aparigraha (moderation).
Niyamas: there are five personal restrains or spiritual observances to follow that will guide you to be more mindful: shauca (purity), samtosha (contentment), tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (study), and ishvara-pranidhana (devotion to the divine).
Asanas: These are the postures we practice in a yoga class. The goal is to find steadiness and ease while in your asana.
Pranayama: Controlling the breath with different breathing techniques will allow you to be in a direct connection with mind over body. The breath is the constant source of life force (prana).
Pratyahara: The practice of withdrawal from the outside world distractions and focusing inward allows you to detach yourself from the worldly self, and to connect with your inner pure self.
Dharana: After detaching yourself from the outside world, the mind will be ready to deal with the internal dialogue focusing the attention to a single point or concentration.
Dhyana: The art to quieting the mind or the continuation of concentration; this is what we call meditation.
Samadhi: State of eternal bliss or ecstasy of self-realization with a higher power and oneself.