Ashtanga Yoga or Yoga of Eight Limbs

Ashtanga Yoga or the Yoga of Eight Limbs Part 1
Ashtanga Yoga is also known as Raja Yoga or the Royal Path of Yoga. In a previous post on meditation, I already discussed the internal three limbs of yoga Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi also known as Concentration, Meditation, and Absorption which make up the yogic practice of samyama. Here I will inform you of the external limbs of yoga. First are the restraints and observances also known as Yamas and Niyamas. The Yamas or restraints include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-sexual misconduct, and non-greediness. In Wicca, it is important for us to practice these restraints and work the magic that does not harm anyone. It is important to be truthful and honest in our practice not only for ourselves but to be a positive influence for others. People already look down on witchcraft as it is. When practicing love spells it is important not to cast spells that lead to sexual misconduct or manipulation of people’s emotions. It is also beneficial to be giving and charitable to others. The Niyamas are observances we should or do practice in Wicca such as cleanliness or purity. It is not just purity of the body but also of the mind. In some Wiccan rituals, we take sacred baths or showers to wash away impurities, negative energies, and bad karma. Contentment is a state of happiness and peace with life and with what one has. As witches, we must be content with what we have and our lives so we do not misuse our magic out of jealousy for what others may possess. The next Niyama deals with tapas or practices that produce heat in other words methods of self-discipline such as visualization techniques, meditation, and concentration techniques, breathing exercises which we will discuss later as well as practices such as taichi or body postures which will be discussed later. Next is self-study, this is not only the study of magical and philosophical texts but also self-inquiry and wisdom attained by communion with God and Goddess. The last Niyama is surrender to the divine, which is being fully unified with the God and Goddess which we do through prayer, ritual, and meditation. Meditation is most important because it leads to samadhi which as said before means absorption but is better described as a union. Yoga means union which basically is saying according to Paramahamsa Yogananda is the science and art of increasing our awareness or intuition of our omnipresent connection with the divine or in our case the God and Goddess.
Ashtanga Yoga or Yoga of Eight Limbs Part 2
The third limb of Ashtanga Yoga is Asanas in other words body postures which are used to not only provide fitness and health but also to unblock energies in the body. Next is the fourth limb also called pranayama which deals with using breathing exercises to increase, control, and develop prana or vital life energy in the body. Pranayama is essential for witches because it restores the energy we use up during ritual and spellcasting. It is important to do pranayama every day. There are many wonderful videos on pranayama that you can find on youtube. I would suggest three main pranayamas, Bhastrika, Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma. I use these practices every day and have had beneficial results. The last limb is Pratyahara which means sense withdrawal. This usually happens automatically when you reach deeper states of concentration. This step is essential in order to reach meditation. It is important to block out the external components of life in order to go deeper into our consciousness and discover the divine within.
I have shared with you the Eight Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali because I feel they will benefit us as Witches and as we practice magic. Yoga is not a religion but a science that can enhance the spiritual aspect of any religion. I feel Wiccans should incorporate these practices in their daily practice not only to develop their psychic abilities or physical health but also to develop a closer relationship with God and Goddess. Thank You and Blessed Be.