The Eight Limbs Of Yoga And Its Philosophy

The eight fold path in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is called ashtanga, and means “eight limbs”. It acts like a guide to a meaningful life full through self-discipline, moral and ethics.

1. Yama

This first limb of Patanjali’s Yoga relates to the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”). It shows us integrity, ethical standards, and how we should behave in life.

There are five Yamas:

  • Ahimsa – nonviolence
  • Brahmacharya – continence
  • Asteya – non-stealing
  • Satya – truthfulness
  • Aparigraha – non-conscientiousness

2. Niyama

Niyama deals with self-discipline, spirituality and meditation.

There are five Niyamas:

  • Samtosa – contentment
  • Saucha – cleanliness
  • Tapas – heat and spiritual austerities
  • Isvara pranidhana – surrender to God
  • Svadhyaya – sacred scripture studies

3. Asana

Asanas are the postures practised in yoga, where body is a temple and one should take care of it both, mentally and physically. One develops discipline through practise of asanas.

4. Pranayama

The complete breathing technique and exercise, where breath plays the most important role. There are seven pranayama techniques: Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahya, Anulom Vilom, Bhramari, Udgeeth and Pranav.

5. Pratyahara

Pratyahara means sensory transcendence, where we make the complete conscious act to withdraw our awareness from the outside world and our senses. One has complete attention to the internal-self.

6. Dharana

Dharana is our concentration, and each previous step helps us to prepare for the next one. One is now completely relaxed and relieved from the outside world and distractions, so that he or she can deal with the mind. One learns how to focus on a single point through meditation.

7. Dhyana

Dhyana means meditation, and is the uninterrupted flow of contemplation. Although you may think that dharana and dhyana are the same stages, dharana deals with focus to a single point, whereas dhyana is an ultimate state of attention without any focus.

8. Samadhi

Samadhi is the final limb of Patanjali, and a state of pure ecstasy. At this state, one merges with a point of focus and transcends the self with it. One realises the profound connection in the Universe and the Divine. One feels complete peace and understanding.

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