Limbs of Yoga
The art of right living and the foundations of yoga
philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200
AD. Compiled by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs of Yoga
are a progressive series of steps or disciplines that purifies the body and
mind, ultimately leading the Yogi (one who practices Yoga) to enlightenment.
While the physical part of yoga is certainly of significance, the eight
conventional limbs of Yoga practice have meditation of God as their underlying
principle. The practice of yoga is both an art and science, which creates
unification of the body and mind with the spirit.
Yoga Asanas |
The main objective of Yoga is to help the practitioner cultivate an awareness of
self. In other words, it is about making balance and creating calmness to live
in peace, good health and harmony. Yoga describes the inner workings of the mind
and provides eight steps to control its restlessness to enjoy the lasting peace.
Each part ultimately brings completeness to the individual. They tend to find
their connectivity to the divine. Being a different individual, a person can
emphasize one branch and then move on to another according to their
understanding. These are the eight limbs of the system found in the famous Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali.
Eight Limbs Of Yoga
It is known as Moral observances for interactions with others. Broken down into
five wise characteristics, they tell us about our fundamental nature that of
being compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful. It teaches the directives of
Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya
(celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-covetousness)
It is known as Moral observances for interactions with yourself. The word itself
means rules that are prescribed for personal observance. The niyamas are far
more than an attitude, and are more intimate and personal. The directive include
Shaucha (internal and external purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas
(austerity), Svadhyaya (study of religious books and repetitions of Mantras) and
Ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender to God, and His worship).
It is the practice of physical postures and is the most commonly known aspect of
yoga. The practice of moving the body into postures helps in improving health,
strength, balance and flexibility. On a deeper level, the practice of asana,
which means staying or abiding in Sanskrit, is used as a means to calm the mind
and move into the inner essence of being.
It controls the energy, in order to restore and maintain health and to promote
evolution. Pranayama is the measuring, control, and directing of the breath. It
further provides perfect relaxation and balance of body activities are realized.
In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to
external objects. It is most commonly known for sensory inhibition.
Immovable concentration of the mind is the underlying principle of Dharana. The
essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of attention in one
direction. The mind needs to be stilled in order to achieve this state of
Dhyana focuses on Meditation. It means worship, or profound and abstract
religious meditation that involves concentration upon a point of focus with the
intention of knowing the truth about it. The concept holds that when one focuses
their mind in concentration on an object the mind is changed into the shape of
It is the final step in the eight-fold path of Yoga. It means pleasurable
fascination of one's individual consciousness in the essence of God. Samadhi
means to bring together to merge. In this state, the body and senses are at
rest, but the faculty of mind and reason are alert. You need to control the
feelings of Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-Dvesha (likes and
dislikes), Abhinivesha (clinging to mundane life).