Patanjali’s yoga is usually called the Eight-limbed (Ashtanga) Yoga. In Sanskrit, ashta means eight, and Anga means limbs. (Yoga Sutras 2:29). These are the eight steps and stems. Every branch is important; skipping any step would keep the yoga journey incomplete.
This 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training discusses the most critical part of yoga sutras: Ashtanga yoga. For yoga practitioners, these are ethical guidelines for their practice and teaching.
Eight Limbs of Yoga
- Yama (Self Restraint)
Yama consists of the five Don’ts of Yoga, which apply to actions, words, and thoughts. For example, Yam – self-restraint means restraining your behavior; they are moral codes of conduct.
- Niyama (Observance). Niyama consists of the five Dos of Yoga. Niyam is between you and yourself.
3) Asana – By Patanjali Asana’s are defined as “STHIRAM SUKHAM ASANAM”. Stream means steady, sukham means comfortable, and asana means posture. So an asana should be a stable and comfortable. Only meditative poses can be according to this definition, and Patanjali means poses like Sukhasana (relaxed posture), Padmasana (lotus pose), Sidhasana (Siddha Pose), and Virasana.
All other asanas help the body to sit comfortably with steadiness for a longer time, and once you achieve peace and comfort, the natural process of yoga starts. This is the base for all the advanced yogic practices to channel the energy into seven chakras, awaken the Kundalini energy, and achieve the state of Samadhi.
4) Pranayama – Prana means vital energy or life force present in all things animate and inanimate, and Ayama means extension or expansion of breath, so Pranayama means breath control. Therefore, by Practicing Pranayama regularly, Pranmaya kosha becomes purified, and one can manipulate the prana in various parts of the body for the purification and transformation of the energy.
5) Pratyahara – Abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects by turning the awareness. When you start practicing yoga from Yama, Niyama, Asan, and Pranayama, you achieve so much purity on a physical and mental level. At the same time, you will feel very energetic.
Pratyahara is about retaining this energy, not dissipating it unnecessarily. When you turn this energy inward, it penetrates the chakras, and they consume all the power, and you start feeling transformed day by day. You would require excess energy to penetrate or activate the chakras because Pratyahara is important for yogis and yoginis.
6) Dharana –Dharana means focusing or concentrating on one point or direction. It needs energy and willpower to bring all the power to one end. Most creative people practice Dharana; for example, painters, musicians, sculptures, and scientists need a lot of concentration for their creativity. Some meditation techniques are also part of the concentration, like walking, breathing, or doing exercises mindfully.
7) Dhyan – Dhyan means choice less awareness; it is not a concentration or chanting the mantras or other activity. This is the state of nonactivity where all the physical and mental activities seize and the person experiences thoughtlessness, where the mind becomes calm and quiet, and these are the moments of stillness and peace.
There are many methods and techniques to achieve this state, and one must determine to practice meditation regularly. The whole day is aware of whatever you are doing and finding time and space to sit silently without doing anything, just observing the mind, body, sensations, and feelings. This is passive meditation, and many active meditations can give you better and fast results for making your mind silent.
8) Samadhi – If you can experience the stillness of the mind in meditation, and it is mainly for short times like a glimpse, but in Samadhi, these glimpses of peace and joy become a permanent state of the being. Samadhi is the highest state and goal in spiritual practice, where one finds the meaning in life and becomes one with it.
Ego disappears completely, and a person allows divine energy to flow within them. A person is free from all duality of life. The lessons of learning in human form are completed on this planet earth, and for consciousness to have human form is no more necessary.
One transcends the body and mind far behind and experiences eternal life and bliss where all the desires seize, and life becomes blissful. This state, also called SATCHITANAND, means truth, consciousness, and happiness.