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Yoga isn't just Asana: Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga (The 8 Limbs of Yoga)- A complete Healthy Lifestyle

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga
A complete healthy lifestyle

1. Yam ( 5 External Disciplines )

2. Niyam ( 5 Internal Disciplines)

3. Asan (Posture)

4. Pranayam (Mindful Breathing)

5. Pratyahar (Withdrawal of Senses)

6. Dharana (Concentration)

7. Dhyan (Meditation)

8. Samadhi (Union with the Divine)

Ashtanga Yoga is divided into 2 parts:

A. Bahiranga Yoga (The outer path)- Gain mastery over the mind by using indirect techniques. It consists of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara-

1. Yama: Social Contracts (External Discipline)- how we behave within society-

5 Yamas:

I. Ahimsa- nonviolence - compassion for all living things- don’t injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way- even with your words you should not hurt anyone, there is a beautiful quote: “We have 206 bones in

our body but our tongue has no bones but strong enough to break someone’s heart, so watch your words before you speak.” Second ex. While practicing yoga you can hurt yourself if you don’t listen to your body. If you are in pain stop, don’t push yourself hard but if you are in discomfort you can try a little bit more to advance your posture. Our body is meant to get some stress and then grow from there.

II. Satya- Commitment to the truthfulness

III. Asteya- Non-stealing- not just object, don’t even steal other’s time

IV. Brahmacarya (Celibacy)- Control of Senses

V. Aparigraha (Non-greed)- to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy

So, these 5 Yamas purify human nature and contribute to the health and happiness of society.

2. Niyama: Rules- personal contracts- duties directed towards the self (Internal Disciplines) -

5 Niyamas:

I. Saucha- Cleanliness- outer and inner both ex. Yoga postures tone our entire body and remove toxins, pranayama cleans our lungs

II. Santosha- Contentment- it means being content with what we have

III. Tapas- the power to stand thirst and hunger, cold and heat, etc.

IV. Swadhyaya- Self-education- the study of scriptures, self-awareness

V. Isvara Pranidhana- surrender yourse

lf at the feet of God. The practice requires that we set aside sometime each day to recognize that there is an omnipresent force larger than ourselves that guides and directs the course of our lives

3. Yoga asana- Sthirasukham asanam- to stay in a position firmly with ease. Pathanjali says the purpose of yoga asana is to use the body to gain health and control the mind

4. Pranayama- breath control- to cut the speed of inhalation and exhalation

5. Pratyahara- Control of the Senses- Pathanjali says Yogascittavrttinirodhah- the turbulence of mind can be controlled by the practice of yoga

B. Antaranga Yoga (The inner path)- Directly handle the mind and gain mastery over it. It consists of Dharna, Dhyana, and Samadhi-

1. Dharna: Concentration- Focus on a single thought

It comes before Dhayana (Meditation). When we sit for meditation many thoughts arise, if we concentrate on a single thought that’s Dharna ex. Trataka Kriya- keeping a burning candle at eye level and concentrating by focusing on the single thought of the tip of the wick of the candle.

2. Dhyana: Meditation/ Defocus/ No thoughts

3. Samadhi: The final step of 8 limbs of Yoga- in samadhi we merge into super consciousness


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