Eight Limbs of Yoga
What is meant by the Eight Limbs of Yoga?
Yoga is a unique combination of art and science which aims at uniting the mind, the body and the soul. Yoga can be defined as an art of living which was widely practiced in ancient India. The yogic philosophy was laid down on the ancient sacred text - 'Yoga Sutra' by Patanjali. The text talks about the powers of the mind and eight limbs of Yoga. These eight limbs of yoga are eight steps which are meant to calm down the restlessness of the mind and take one on the journey to eternal peace.
What are the eight limbs of Yoga?
The eight limbed path described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra forms the structural backbone of yogic practice. Each of these limbs has its own holistic focus which gradually connects an individual to divinity. The eight limbs or the eight steps of Yoga are as follows:
- Yamas - This teaches universal morality. It has following sub divisions:
- Ahimsa - Teaches compassion for
- Satya - Teaches importance of
- Asteya - Teaches non-stealing
- Brahmacharya - Controlling the
- Aparigraha - Neutralizing the desire for wealth
- Niyama - These are rules teaching personal observance. The sub-division under this category are:
- Sauca - Purity
- Santosa - Satisfaction and
- Tapas - Using energy in a
- Svadhyaya - Self-study
- Isvarapranidhana - Spiritual celebration
- Asanas -
Yogasanas or asanas are the various body postures for
improving strength, flexibility, health and balance.
- This is an art of controlling the breath. Prana means
energy. Pranayama measures, controls and directs the breath
for the good health of an individual as well as to promote
his/her evolution as a human being.
- Pratyahara - Pratyahara which means
retreating or drawing back is practiced to bring the senses
under control. It teaches one the art of detaching oneself
from the sensorial distractions and directs him/her to
constantly move on towards the path of self realization and
- Dharana -
Dharana teaches one to focus attention in one direction and
improve concentration by refining the perceptual awareness
of the inner soul.
- Dhyana -
This teaches devotion or worship and religious meditation
where one realizes the Universal Spirit.
- Samadhi - This is the final step of Yoga where one attains the stage where he/she attains divinity.
The eight steps or the eight limbs of Yoga is a logical pathway which helps an individual attain the ultimate physical, emotional, ethical and psycho-spiritual well-being.