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Patanjali Yoga Sutras : The 8 Limbs Of Ashtanga

Ashtanga is the ancient system of yoga described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Ashtanga translates as eight limbs, Asta means eight, and Anga means limb.

In his text dating back almost 2,000 years, Patanjali codifies yoga practices by outlining the eight limbs of yoga, all of which are interconnected. Through the practice and understanding of all eight limbs, the impurities of the body and the mind will be destroyed, and all obstacles to realizing the true self will be removed.

Though the limbs should be approached individually and step by step, in practice, they should consciously be threaded together and allowed to grow simultaneously. In doing so, each limb will blossom like eight petals of a lotus flower.

Yamas: Abstinences
Niyamas: Observances
Asana: Posture
Pranayama: Breath Expansion
Pratyahara: Sense Withdrawal
Dharana: Concentration
Dhyana: Meditation
Samadhi: Absorption

Asana practice must be established to ensure the correct practice of Pranayama. Asana practice is essential for the development of the Yamas and Niyamas. These four externally oriented limbs turn our awareness inward and away from the distractions of the external world to prepare us for the last four internally oriented limbs.

Pratyahara is the fifth limb that bridges the lower external limbs to the higher internal ones. Once the first limbs are firmly rooted, the higher limbs spontaneously arise and evolve with time. here we have informed you about Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga.

Knowledge In-Depth – 8 Limbs Of Ashtanga Yoga

The eight limbs of Ashtanga can also be categorized as Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.

Hatha yoga comprises the first five limbs, which are externally oriented and purify and balance the body, nervous system, and mind of the practitioner in preparation for the higher limbs of Raja Yoga.

The last three limbs (Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi) are the internal practices of concentration and meditation that lead us to the realization of higher consciousness. Growth between the eight limbs must be simultaneous so one’s practice can be homogenous and balanced.

The ancient sage Patanjali describes the eight limbs in his Yoga Sutras as follows:

Yamas: Abstinences

There are five Yamas that regulate our inner behavior and thus how we interact with the external world. These are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-possessiveness.

Ahimsa (Non-violence): This means to be non-violent in word, thought, or action. Becoming established in non-violence, those around cease to be hostile.

Satya (Truthfulness): To be truthful in both words and actions and to follow a path that is true and honest. By being truthful, whatever action you take will be successful. If you speak the truth, your words become powerful, and you become aligned with the truth.

Asteya (Non-stealing): To not steal the property, wealth, work, or ideas of others. When one is established in non-stealing, all jewels present themselves.

Brahmacharya (Abstinence): Living a lifestyle conducive to attaining higher truth and restraining from multiplying our desires to retain energy for spiritual development. When celibacy is established, vitality is achieved.

Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness): To not be greedy and not grasp or seek to possess things or ideas. One who overcomes possessiveness and a grasping mind will gain knowledge of the past, present, and future.

Niyamas: Observances

There are five Niyamas that function as the values with which we interact with ourselves. They are purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and devotion to the Divine.

Sauca (purity): Maintaining internal and external purity by keeping the mind, body, and environment clean and hygienic. From cleanliness, an aversion to one’s own body and contact with the bodies of others arises.

Santosha (Contentment): To be happy with what we have led to inner joy. “From contentment, one gains supreme happiness.”

Tapas (Self-discipline): Through Tapas, the body and senses are purified, resulting in clarity and spiritual power. By practicing self-discipline, impurities are destroyed, then the body and the sense organs will gain spiritual strength.”

Svadhyaya (Self-study): To engage ourselves and further our studies. Self-study will result in the experiential realization of the chosen scriptures, discipline, and deities. While practicing self-study, we totally submerge ourselves in the deity that we have chosen.

Isvara Pranidhana (Devotion To The Divine): To surrender everything to the supreme being, dropping the sense of ego or doing, and see that all action is done with the intention of the Divine. By surrounding God, one will attain Samadhi.

Asana: Posture

Asana means to sit comfortably and steadily. Through the practice of posture, we purify the body in preparation for transcendence. Posture should be stable and comfortable.

Pranayama: Breath Control

By controlling the breath, the mind comes under our control. Through the practices of Pranayama, we expand and purify the pranic body. Pranayama practice will destroy the veil over the inner light, new clarity and perspective emerge, and the mind becomes fit for meditation. Thus, slowing the unregulated movements of inhalation and exhalation begins by extension and expansion of breath.

Pratyahara: Sense Withdrawal (Independence From External Stimuli)

The binding of the senses and retuning the insights from the external world to the mind. “When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara. When pratyahara has arisen, then we are prepared for concentration.

Dharana: One Pointed Concentration

The focus of the mind on a single object, such as a mantra, or the deep concentration on the chakra centers to bring the subconscious mind under complete control. Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.

Dhyana: Meditation

Effortless continuous concentration where the mind is under complete control, and there are no disturbing thoughts.

Samadhi: Super Conscious State, Self Realisation & Absorption

The state in which the individual consciousness is dissolved in the pure cosmic consciousness. “Samadhi is when that same meditation shines forth as the object alone, and the mind is devoid of its reflective nature.”

Join Tattvaa Yogashala Ashtanga Yoga Course In Rishikesh

Tattvaa Yogashala is a renowned Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga School in Rishikesh. If you want to deepen your knowledge of this ancient science of Ashtanga Yoga, join our yoga school in Rishikesh. Our experienced yoga teachers have full expertise to teach you these 8 limbs of Ashtanga comprehensively. We will teach you how to perform Asanas & Pranayama correctly. In addition to this, you will also get in-depth knowledge about various systems of the body & how these Pranayamas will heal all the ailments related to these.

Contact us to join yoga teacher training in Rishikesh!

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