Ashtanga Yoga- The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. These 8 limbs are:

  1. Yamas - The Yamas or restraints are divided into five moral injuctions, aimed at destroying the lower nature. They should all be practiced and developped by the letter but also more importantly in the spirit. They should all be practiced in word, thought and deed.
    • Ahimsa or non-violence
    • Satyam or truthfulness
    • Brahmacharya orĀ  keep up celibacy to preserve the energy for quicker evolution
    • Asteya or non-stealing
    • Aparigraha or non-covetousness

  2. Niyamas - The Niyamas or observances are also divided into five and complete the ethical precepts started with the Yama.. These qualities are:
    • Saucha or purity - this internal and external cleanliness.
    • Santosha or contentment
    • Tapas or austerity
    • Swadhyaya or study of the sacred texts
    • Ishwara Pranidhana which is constantly living with an awareness of the divine Presence (surrender to God's Will)

  3. Asanas - Postures

  4. Pranayama - regulation or control of the breath.

  5. Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses in order to still the mind.

  6. Dharana - concentration. The last 3 steps constitute the internal practice of Raja Yoga. When Dharana is achieved, it leads to the next step:

  7. Dhyana - meditation is that state of pure thought and absorption in the object of meditation. There is still duality in Dhyana. When mastered Dhyana leads to the last step:

  8. Samadhi - the superconscious state. In Samadhi non-duality or oneness is experienced. This is the deepest and highest state of consciousness where body and mind have been transcended and the Yogi is one with the Self or God.
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