“Yoga is the union of the individual psyche with the transcendental Self”. Yoga-Yagnavalky

In Sanskrit ‘Yoga’, deriving from the root ‘Yuj’ means ‘join or unite’. Developed over 5000 years ago, it is an ancient Indian science and practice, based on:

    • Incorporating physical postures
    • Breathing exercises & meditation
    • Strengthening and uniting the mind, body & soul
    • Experiencing overall health & happiness
    • Improving the quality of life

To understand ‘Self’ that Yoga leads us to, it is necessary to understand the philosophy. This can gradually be attained through asanas, breath & mind, a healthy body, a calm & clear mind as well as self-knowledge & wisdom.


      • The main paths of Yoga are:

Jnana Yoga: The philosophical approach – study of Upanishads (Hindu scriptures)
Karma Yoga: The yoga of action – the path of selfless service
Bhakti Yoga: The yoga of devotion – channelling emotion into devotion
Raja Yoga: The scientific, psychological approach – the yoga of mental self-control
Hatha Yoga: The physical approach – vehicle of the soul
(Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga are the two branches of Yoga that focuses on the physical culture)

Derived from ancient texts dating back to Vedic times in India, most notably Patanjali’s (considered to be the ‘Father of Yoga’) ‘Yoga Sutras’ (5000 BC to 300 AD – The eight limbs, or eight aspects of Yoga, leading the student on an adventure of human potential and Samadhi, they are the basis for the various types of meditation and Yoga which prosper today in many forms), “Ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon -objects balancing the flow of solar and lunar energy in the body-, Hatha Yoga is a path about the union of the opposites which gives attention to the mobilization of the physical body, the control of breathing or vital energy and inner peace. It concentrates working on physical postures (asanas), purification procedures (shatkriya), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation and meditation in order to harmonise the body, mind and spirit.


      • Patanjali’s eight-stage ‘Yoga Sutras’ consists of:

(In the Western world, the emphasis is mostly placed on the third stage: asanas -hatha yoga- physical)

– Ethical obligations:

i- Yama (personal restrains):  The yamas are the means to regain balance in life, boundaries and/or guidelines for ones practice. They are moral attitudes which help to provide an ethical basis for social interaction and to simplify life so that one can be at peace with themselves and the outside world. The Yamas are:
Ahimsa – non violence
Satya – non lying
Asteya – non stealing
Apargraha – non greed
Brahmacharya  – self control

ii- Niyama (observances): The niyamas are positive means of taking responsibility for ones actions  and practices that lead to wisdom and knowledge of the Self. They are observances that channel energy inwards towards self-realization, instincts and emotions, self discipline. The Niyamas are:
Saucha – purity
Santosha – contentment
Tapas –simplicity
Swadhyaya –study of the Self
Ishwarapranidhana – surrender of the ego, surrender to God

– Physical postures:

iii- Asana (posture): The ability to remain in a position that is relaxed, erect and straight spine, working on every part of the body, stretching & toning muscles, joints & bones and maintaining flexibility. Also working internally, toning & stimulating organs, glands & nerves and releasing physical & mental tension resulting in increased energy.

iv- Pranayama (breath / energy control): Being aware of the breath, revitalises the body, and calms & refreshes the mind resulting in increased mental clarity and concentration.

– Meditative stages:

v- Pratyhara (sense-control): Pratyahara is the removal of the senses, withdrawal of the mental energy inwards or attachment to objects & external focuses while preparing the mind for meditation.

vi- Dharana (concentration): Bringing the mind to a rest, a stable state.

vii- Dhyana (meditation): Silencing of the body, mind & intellect and experiencing peace & happiness.

viii- Samadhi (enlightenment): Self-realization, enlightenment & the super conscious state, experience of unity and absorption in the Absolute and oneness.


      • The Eight Limbs of Hatha Yoga are:

i- Internal and external purification:
Yama and Niyama
Kriya: technique or practice within a yoga discipline

ii- Asana

iii- Mudra (Seal, lock): The symbolic gestures of the hands where the fingers are held together denoting positions which close the body apertures
Bandha (Bondage, joining together): When prana is made to flow in the yogi’s body, employing bandhas prevent the dissipation of energy and carries it to the right places without damage

iv- Pranayama

v- Pratyahara

vi- Dharana

vii- Chakra meditation: Making the mind steady. Chakras are the focal points of energy that, consciously or unconsciously, we use within our bodies. The chakras are:
Root Chakra – located at the base of the spine, linked to health, constitution and security.
Naval Chakra – located in the lower abdomen, associated with the acts of giving and receiving, tied into, love, passion and sexuality.
Solar Plexus Chakra – located just above the navel and below the chest, focus point for force of will, sense of transformation, concentration and control of personal energies.
Heart Chakra – located at the centre of the chest, focus for love and understanding.
Throat Chakra – located in the throat area between chin and the top of the sternum, linked to one’s powers of communication.
Brow Chakra – located in the forehead, right above the eyes (also known as the region of the ‘Third Eye’), related to perception beyond the physical realm.
Crown Chakra – located at the very top of the head, associated directly with dealings of the mind and spirit, exploration of one’s consciousness.

viii- Samadhi