The Eight Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Ashtanga Yoga means an eight limb path to enlightenment. The final objective of Yoga is the end of suffering, and to achieve this, Patanjali described the steps we need to take. These steps are not one after the other, but rather all at the same time.

However, we can choose some aspects of this path, experience it and then move to the next one.

1. Yama

A set of standards, focusing on how we deal with others.

  • Ahimsa: non-violence
  • Satya: truthfulness
  • Asteya: non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: non-profligacy
  • Aparigraha: non-covetousness

2. Niyama

Deals with self-discipline and spiritual observances.

  • Saucha: cleanliness
  • Samtosa: contentment
  • Tapas: spiritual austerities, discipline
  • Svadhyaya: inner reflection
  • Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to a higher being

3. Asana

Through the practice of asana, we develop control of the limbs and nervous system and the ability to concentrate.

4. Pranayama

Is generally translated as breath control.

5. Pratyahara

Awareness is shifted away from the five senses, looking inwardly to reach a state of detachment.

6. Dharana

Concentration upon a single point which helps to deepen a meditational practice.

7. Dhyana

Meditation or uninterrupted flow of concentration.

8. Samadhi

Oneness, at this stage, the meditator merges with their point of focus and transcends the Self.

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