Patanjali’s 8 Limbs Of Yoga


Patanjali’s 8 Limbs Of Yoga

What Is The Eight-Limbed Path?

Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, also known as ashtanga yoga, is an integral system that allows practitioners to align themselves with their true purpose and find enlightenment. This system, which is also known as raja yoga, is made up of eight principles: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.

Yamas & Niyamas

The first two limbs of Patanjali’s yoga are called yama and niyama. The yamas, which consist of five guidelines, urge practitioners to adopt ethical behavior, while the niyamas, which also contain five principles, encourage individuals to act in an appropriate, virtuous way. Together, they are often referred to as the moral restraints:



  • Yamas: non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), self-restraint (brahmacharya), and non-covetousness (aparigraha)
  • Niyamas: cleanliness (saucha), contentment (santosha), austerity (tapas), study (svadhyaya), and devotion to God (ishvarapranidhana)

Asana & Pranayama

The third and fourth limbs, asana and pranayama, often emphasize physical postures and breathing exercises, respectively. While asana can vary among practitioners, postural asanas are rooted in the yoga sutras and have been developed over centuries of practice and refinement. Similarly, pranayama encourages individuals to align their breath with movement and is seen as a way of calming and controlling the mind.

Pratyahara, Dharana, & Dhyana

The fifth and sixth limbs of Patanjali’s yoga are known as pratyahara and dharana. Pratyahara is the practice of withdrawing from external stimuli and allowing the mind to explore its inner landscape. Dharana is the process of concentrating on an object or idea and sustaining it for an extended period of time. Generally, these two limbs are seen as preliminary practices for Dhyana, which is the seventh limb and refers to a sustained period of meditation.

Samadhi

The eighth and final limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path is samadhi, which is the most advanced stage of meditation. Samadhi is often equated with “enlightenment” as it is the highest form of meditation and is seen as a tool for discovering one’s true self and connecting with divine presence.

Conclusion

Patanjali’s eight-limbed path is an integral system that is used to help individuals find spiritual growth and enlightenment. It is composed of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi, and it works together to bring balance and clarity to an individual’s life. It is important to remember that this path is a journey and not a destination; the process of attaining enlightenment takes dedication and practice, but it can be done.

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