eight limbs of yoga

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Within Ashtanga yoga this is a way of living, one who practices yoga wants to achieve number 8, which is the superconscious state. It’s important to learn about the basics of yoga, as yoga is not all about the body or the asanas, but also the mind and spirituality.

These eight limbs of yoga are a part of Ashtanga yoga; Ashta is Eight and Anga means Limb. These eight limbs were taught in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

1. Yamas

The five restraints

  1. Ahinsa – Non-violence in thoughts, words and deeds
  2. Satya – Truthfulness in thoughts, words and deeds
  3. Brahmacharya – Control of the senses and celibacy, the conduct that leads to Brahman
  4. Asteya – Non-stealing
  5. Aparigraha – Lack of greed, minimalism, non-acceptance of gifts

2. Niyamas

Religious observances and reflection

  1. Shaucha – Purity or cleanliness of body and mind
  2. Santosha – Contentment
  3. Tapas – Austerity, purifying heat or struggle
  4. Svadhyaya – The study of sacred texts and of the self
  5. Ishvara-pranidhaa – Devotion, or the constant awareness of the divine

3. Asana

That which is stable, that which is comfortably, that is asana. Asana = posture.
Physical exercises to gain mastery over life energies and the body.

There are 840,000 poses within yoga.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama (the regulation of life force) which is of the nature of regulating the inhalation and exhalation of the life force is to be practiced after getting mastery over posture.
Breath is seen regulated by holding it without or suspended, some are long some are short depending upon the place duration and numbers.

There is a fourth type of Pranayama where the breath stops spontaneously while concentrating on something external or internal.

5. Pratyahara

The senses follow the mind in withdrawing themselves from their objects, this is pratyahara.

6. Dharana

Fixation of the mind on a particular point, such as navel, the heart, tip of nose or external sounds and a continuous flow of concentration towards them is Dharana.

7. Dhyana

Here the point of concentration dissolves and there is a continuous flow of similar mental waves towards the object; this is Dhyana (meditation).

8. Samadhi

When the meditator identifies himself with the object of meditation, forgetting, as it were, his own nature, he is said to have attained Samadhi. Achieving the superconscious state.

It’s important to focus on the foundation at first. Here I will go a little deeper into points one and two: the Yamas and Niyamas.

Yama – The five ethical restraints

  1. Yama – Non-restraint.
    Applies to the self – No drugs
    Not wishing ill on anyone
    Not getting angry
    Applies to the environment – keeping the planet, our home, clean
  2. Satya – Truthfulness
    Applies to the self – Don’t lie since this will cause many thoughts which goes against the calming mind.
    Avoid hurtful speech – Abuse, lying, ridicule (of the sacred)
    Applies to others – Not causing disturbance
  3. Asteya – Non-stealing
    Avoiding misuse, greed
    Avoiding breaches of trust
    Austerity in needs, freedom from craving
  4. Bramacharya – Self-restraint or celibacy
    The energy that you build up with yoga asanas will be released with any sexual or sensual experience.
  5. Aparagriha – Non-hoarding or collecting unnecessary things
    Avoiding accepting anything that you haven’t worked for

Niyama – Religious observances

  1. Saucha – Purity of the self: body, emotions, intellect, diet, the environment, geared towards self-study (svadhyaya), benevolence (saumanasya), lucidity (ekagrata) and mastery of the senses (indriya- jaya).
  2. Santosha – Cultivating contentment. Be happy with what you have, even though you should always try to better yourself, you should look around and be satisfied with what is already there.
  3. Tapas – Discipline of the self. The luxuries of our modern times makes our mind weak. We should do our best to incorporate yoga into our every day lives, to meditate, pray, and fasting is a great practice for Tapas.
  4. Svadhyaya – Educating ones self. Study your heritage. Read books by any master, or biographies. Mantra chanting is a good practice as well.
  5. Ishvara-pranidhaa – Orientation towards divinity. Surrender to God’s will.

Asana 

The mind and body are interconnected, for this reason asanas are important. If one wants to be able to meditate well, one needs a good posture and strong body-mind connection.

Pranayama

The Prana is in the air, and thus breathing is the best exercise to get control over the Prana. Within Pranayama there are different breathing exercises and one can control the breath in one or multiple of these ways, and slow the breath down.

Pratyahara

Act like a turtle and pull the senses in. Train yourself to let go of the focus on things and turn inward into your peaceful mind.

Source:
My notes from course at Kranti Yoga & Shaktiananda Yoga & Yoga Sutras by Patanjali

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