What are yoga’s eight stages?

On Fire Fitness & Physical Therapy has one mission: promoting fitness, health and lifestyle changes we all need to stay happy and healthy well into our senior years.

If you’re curious about what yoga is all about, there’s no better way to learn than to explore its eight stages! These represent the different areas of your life that yoga can touch and improve. From improving physical health to promoting mental well-being, each stage holds great potential for growth.  

Here are Eight Stage of Yoga 

1. Yama 

The first stage of yoga is yama, which are often translated as the “five moral disciplines” of yoga. These include nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), abstaining from stealing (asteya), monogamy in action, word and thought (brahmacharya) and greedlessness (aparigraha). 

2. Niyama 

Niyama is the second stage of yoga and it can be defined as personal observances that help to align us with our highest self. This is seen through five different practices: cleanliness or purity in body and mind (shauca), contentment with what one has (santosha), self-discipline (tapas), self-study of one’s mind and devotion to God (svadhyaya) and, finally, the study of sacred texts, meditation on the Divine and complete surrender to God or guru (Ishvarapranidhana). 

3. Asana 

The third stage of yoga is asana, which includes physical postures that help calm our nervous system. These poses are generally held for three to five minutes each with an emphasis placed on stillness rather than intensity or difficulty. The focus here is not so much on power or flexibility but rather on doing what we can with a tranquil demeanor. It should be noted that there also exists a “flow” style of yoga where more dynamic postures are used in a way that is similar to what one would see during dynamic stretches before a workout. The flow style of yoga should not be confused with the third stage of yoga, though it can certainly be incorporated into one’s practice! 

4. Pranayama 

The fourth stage of yoga includes various breathing techniques known as pranayama. One may think “Oh, this just involves controlled breathing,” but there is actually much more to it than that! It involves controlling both inhales and exhales at specific times while utilizing our energy for being mindful about how we breathe deeply into different parts of the body. This promotes self-awareness through an increased awareness around our breath patterns. 

5. Pratyahara 

The fifth stage of yoga is pratyahara, which can be defined as sensory control that involves both our ability to withdraw our senses from stimuli and also redirect them inward. We begin to tap into the subtle aspects of our mind and body and use this introspection to further understand ourselves. It may sound very meditative but there is a lot more depth to it than what many people intuit! 

6. Dharana 

Dharana is the sixth stage of yoga where one moves deeper into their practice by focusing on an object or point. This allows us to look at things without being clouded by likes, dislikes or other subjective judgments that are all too common in society today. This stage can be likened to being highly aware or mindful about something to the point where objectivity can be gained. 

7. Dhyana 

It should come as no surprise that the seventh stage of yoga is dhyana, which can be defined as meditation! This is definitely one of the most popular stages of yoga today and has attracted many people who are looking for inner peace or a way to deal with stress/anxiety. It’s true that yoga will help relieve these feelings but there is much more depth behind meditation practices than simply taking time out for yourself each day! Once you master dharana, you may find it easier to focus on your breathing while eliminating extraneous thoughts from your mind, thus allowing you to gain a deeper connection with yourself. 

8. Samadhi 

The eighth and final stage of yoga, samadhi, is where one actually merges with the object of contemplation or meditation. This could be anything from nature to your breath so you can truly see that there are no barriers separating us from our true self! Once this stage has been reached, it will change your life forever as you find love for yourself and the world around you. A selfless mindset opens up new vistas for us leading to an incredible journey through life filled with joy at every turn! 

There are eight stages of yoga, and if you’re a beginner just starting to practice it for the first time this may seem confusing. That’s why we’ve created an infographic with all the details you need to know about each stage so that your next class will be more fruitful from day one! If you have any questions or concerns after reading our post don’t hesitate to call us today. 

About the Authors  

Journey Healing Centers focuses on Yoga primarily as a healing practice for men, women and children of all ages.  We know that most Americans believe that “yoga is good for you,” but did you know that science backs them up? It’s true! Yoga has been shown to improve health, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and balance, all while reducing stress, anxiety, and pain. Yoga practitioners have a stronger sense of mental clarity, physical fitness, flexibility, and strength.  As you can see these are all powerful reasons for taking up Yoga – so join us!

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