The first four limbs are outward practices, focusing on how we interact with others, self-discipline, observing ourselves breathing and moving. The next four are inward practices that begin to subtly take us deeper within our minds. These four practices build upon one another to bring us to the highest consciousness.
Prayahara is the withdrawing from the senses. In other words, it’s tuning out the physical and mental stimulators that take in the world around you. In this practice, we use pranayama as the tool for withdrawing our senses.
Dharana is acute focus and concentration. The practitioner strives for complete absorption into one thought by stilling the busy, turning mind.
Dhyana is moving into Meditation, or concentration upon a point of focus with the intention of knowing the truth about it.
Samadhi means to bring together to merge. In this state, the body and senses are at rest, but the faculty of mind and reason are alert. You need to control the feelings of Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes), Abhinivesha (clinging to mundane life).
We practice the first four limbs in order to prepare the body and mind to take on the task of moving inward. Do we reach Samadhi? Is that the final outcome? Most likely, we won’t. Or if you obtain a bright flash of the brilliance of Samadhi, it goes as quickly as it comes. Seeking the state of perfect consciousness is the essence of the practice of yoga. Come, and let’s practice together. Let’s change the world by changing ourselves. One step at a time.