What are the 8 limbs of yoga?

by Ananya Gupta February 18, 2022

What are the 8 limbs of yoga?

Mentioned in the Raja Yoga and as explained by Patanjali, self realization can be attained by directing mind and senses towards God by practicing the eight limbs of Yoga.

 


Yama

The first of the 8 limbs of yoga, yama, deals with one’s ethics and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life.



Niyama 

The second limb is self-discipline and spiritual observances. Being consistent with your daily routine and following it religiously.



Asanas, 

The poses practiced in yoga, comprise the third of the 8 limbs of yoga. According to yoga the body is a temple of spirit and taking care of it is important for one's spiritual growth.



Pranayama

translated as “breath control,” this fourth stage consists of techniques and breathing exercises to learn to have control over one's breathing and understand the connection between the mind, breathings and emotions.



Pratyahara 

the fifth limb, means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. Pratyahara makes us step back and take a look at ourselves. This detachment allows us to objectively observe oneself and our actions. 



Dharana 

The practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or concentration. Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself.



Meditation/ Dhyana 

The seventh stage of ashtanga is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, a fine line of distinction exists between these two stages. Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus.



Samadhi

The final stage of ashtanga, samadhi, is a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether. With this realization comes the “peace that passeth all understanding”; the experience of bliss and being at one with the Universe.



Ananya Gupta
Ananya Gupta


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