Samadhi yoga is a style of yoga that combines conscious breathing, or pranayama, with gentle yoga postures, or asanas, to offer practitioners a spiritual path to enlightenment. In ancient Sanskrit, the classical language of India, samadhi, means bliss or super consciousness, and yoga means union. Samadhi yoga is a meditation practice by which the meditator seeks to gain a feeling of oneness with the object of meditation. Practitioners of this style of yoga often seek primarily to experience inner peace and higher states of consciousness, rather than to improve physical fitness.
Practitioners claim anyone can reach spiritual enlightenment by practicing this style of yoga. Samadhi yoga combines pranayama, the breathing exercises used in classical yoga, with basic asanas, or yoga postures. The breathing exercises and postures used in this style of yoga are typically gentler than those used in some more active and strenuous styles, such as Power yoga. Samadhi yoga is generally appropriate for people of all fitness levels, since it typically focuses on breathing exercises and increasing the practitioner's awareness of inner and outer physical and spiritual states.
In classical Sanskrit, the word samadhi refers to a state of higher awareness in which a person who is meditating feels at one with the object of his meditation. Samadhi is also the eighth of the eight limbs of yoga, or the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is classical yoga's guide to virtuous and meaningful living. It lays out the guidelines for ethical and spiritual living, and those who follow it are said to eventually reach enlightenment.
According to the practice, in order to reach samadhi, yoga practitioners must pass through all eight limbs of the Eightfold Path. The first seven limbs of the Eightfold Path are: the yamas, or ethical standards, the niyamas, or standards of self-discipline, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses from outside stimuli, dharana, or concentration, and dhyana, or meditation. Classical yoga teachings say that only after the practitioner has achieved all seven of these initial limbs of Eightfold Path can he achieve bliss, or samadhi. This type of yoga claims to offer its students guidance on the path to enlightenment by focusing not only on physical fitness and the physical body, but on the spiritual body and control of the mind and thoughts. Samadhi yoga classes are generally available in most yoga studios.