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Many people in the West enter the practice of yoga with physical goals. That's what first hooked me. But what has sustained and deepened my practice over the last ten years is the consistent and continuous spiritual and emotional growth that the physical practice (asana) precipitated.
-Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.2
[Yoga is ceasing our identification with the whirlings of the mind.]
Yoga means "union," or "to yoke," "to join."It is the connection with the peace and oneness beyond all maya.
The physical practice is only a portion of yoga. In fact, it's 1/8th of what yoga is, according to the Yoga Sutras. The eight limbs, or components, of yoga are:
YAMAS - five ethical practices focused outward
NIYAMAS - five practices for self-discipline
ASANA - the physical postures
PRANAYAMA - breath exercises (very generally speaking)
PRATYAHARA - directing one's focus inward; sense withdrawal from the external
DHARANA - concentration on a single mental object (i.e., mantra, breath)
DHYANA - meditation; concentration without any object
SAMADHI - enlightenment