I thought it would be helpful to provide some introductory information on the Yoga Sutras and the eight-limbed path (Ashtanga Yoga). This may seem like too much to process as a beginner on the yoga path, however I thought it would be helpful to introduce you to the 8 limbs since you may hear about them in yoga class or in your independent study of yoga.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Patanjali was a great sage who, in the 2nd Century BC, compiled 195 (some say 196) sutras divided into 4 chapters of divine spiritual wisdom. The 4 chapters of the Yoga Sutras contain: the definition and purpose of yoga, the practical approach to achieving the goals of yoga, the powers of yoga and the nature of liberation.
Sage – a profoundly wise person
Sutra – a collection of aphorisms relating to some aspect of the conduct of life
Aphorism – a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation
In the 2nd book of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali outlines the practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga – eight-limbed yoga
Brief descriptions – each limb will be featured independently in future blogs
- Yama – moral codes, ethical disciplines – how to harmoniously interact with others
– Ahimsa – non-violence, harmlessness, kindness
– Satya – truthfulness – in words and thoughts
– Asteya – non stealing, not taking what is not yours, not taking more than you need
– Brahmacharya – sense control
– Aparigraha – non-possessiveness, not hoarding
- NiYama – self observation and study – self discipline in the mind & body for achieving balance within oneself
– Saucha – cleanliness in diet and practice
– Santosha – contentment/embracing the moment for what is, whether enjoyable or difficult
– Tapas – discipline, consistency
– Svadhyaya – self study
– Isvara Pranidhana – faith/trust in a higher being
- Asana – postures – the physical practice
- Pranayama – regulation or control of the breath; steadies the body and is helpful in quieting the mind preparing for the 6th limb of yoga (concentration); Ujjayi Pranayama – Victorious breath control – breathing technique used in Ashtanga Yoga
- Pratyahara – sense withdrawal, sense control – focus while unaware of outside distractions
- Dharana – concentration/focus
- Dhyana – meditation – the practice by which there is constant observation of the mind, focusing on one point and stilling the mind in an uninterrupted flow of concentration.
- Samadhi – liberation, enlightenment, contemplation, total absorption; to bring together, to merge the individual and collective consciousness.
Let me know if you have questions, thoughts, comments…. also see the link to the right of this page for a new yoga glossary we started – we will add to it as clarification and/or explanation is needed to further enhance your learning of all that is YOGA!
If you have an interest in the study of the Yoga Sutras, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave me a comment and I will provide resources.