The eight limbs of Yoga

The practice of Yoga is dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit.
Its objective is to assist the practitioner in using the breath and body to foster an awareness of themselves as individualised beings intimately connected to the unified whole of creation. Achieving this union allows one to live in peace, good health and harmony with the unified whole.
The foundations of Yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD and at it's core is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for one's Yoga practice.
Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order.
Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine.

Briefly the eight limbs are as follows:
1st. LIMB - Yama
5 ethics regarding behaviour towards others.
(I) Ashima - Non violence
(II) Satya - Truthfulness
(III) Asteya - Non stealing
(IV) Brahmacharya - Non lust
(V) Aparigraha - Non covetousness

2nd. LIMB - Niyama
5 ethics regarding behaviour towards oneself
(I) Saucha - Purity of mind and body
(II) Santosa - Contentment
(III) Tapas - Sustained practice
(IV) Svadhyaya - Self study
(V) Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrendering one's ego and trusting the self

3rd. LIMB - Asana
The practice of Yoga postures.
4th. LIMB - Pranayama
The practice of breathing exercises

5th. LIMB - Pratyahara
Withdrawal of the senses so that the exterior world is not a distraction from the interior world within oneself.

6th. LIMB - Dharana
Concentration - meaning the ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions.

7th. LIMB - Dhyana
Meditation - building on Dharana, the concentration is no longer focused on a single thing but is all encompassing.

8th. LIMB - Samadhi
Meditation - building on Dhyana, the transcendence of the self through meditation. The merging of the self with the universe. Often referred to as enlightenment.



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