Eight Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
Ashtanga yoga translated literally means eight-limb yoga. According to Patanjali, asana (the physical practice) is actually the third limb and this dynamic and physical form of yoga consists asana (posture) sequences with a vinyasa (connecting breath and movement) between each posture. With a regular, dedicated practice over a long period of time, your body will become strong and healthy, toxins will be removed and your mind will become quiet allowing you to see your true Self and be at peace.
Ashtanga yoga literally translated means 8 limbed yoga (ashto = eight).
Yama – ethical conduct and self-control for social harmony. These are five moral observances, personal rules for self-control, which are as follows:
- Ahimsa: Non-harm, mental as well as physical.
- Satya: truthfulness to others as well as to oneself.
- Asteya: non-stealing, this has a broader range than one expects, it also includes not seeking to profit from others.
- Brahmacharya: conserving one’s energy so it is there to focus on the path of yoga, sometimes included in sexual abstinence.
- Aprigrahah: freedom from greed/hoarding, not taking more than you need, having a life without the focus of building and accumulating.
Niyama – precepts for personal discipline. Again, there are five aspects to this limb:
- Sauca: cleanliness and purity in both word and deed.
- Santosha: contentment, trying to avoid the restless tendency to look outside of ourselves for experiences to make us happy.
- Tapas: disciplined effort, effort in asana to create heat which in order to burn off the impurities.
- Svadhyaya: the study of self for a deeper understanding of our true self.
- Isvara Pranidhani: to dedicate, devote or surrender to a supreme or personal god, to be humble before something larger than oneself.
Asana – pysical postures of yoga.
Pranayama – breath control technique in order to regulate the prana.
The fifth limb to the eighth is experienced as fruits of effort in the proceeding limbs.
Pratyahara – turning the mind’s awareness away from external, worldly objects and concerns, toward the internal elements of consciousness.
Dharana – concentration or one pointed focus allowing full contemplation of our true nature.
Dhyana – the meditation on the True Self.
Samadhi – enlightenment, being absorbed in Spirit.