Eight-Limb Path of Yoga

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states that there are eight limbs of yoga. These limbs are meant to be practiced on and off your mat. Yoga teachers will often suggest during a class that how you practice on your mat is very likely to be how you practice life.

The first two limbs of yoga deal with ethical disciplines called “universal moral commandments” by BKS Iyengar.

1. Yama, or how we conduct ourselves in the world.

There are five yamas:

Ahimsa (nonviolence)
Satya (truthfulness)
Asteya (nonstealing)
Brahmacharya (celibacy/fidelity)
Aparigraha: (non-covetousness)

2. Niyama, the disciplines that address how we manage our relationships with ourselves, from self-discipline to spiritual observances.

There are also five of these:

Saucha (cleanliness)
Samtosa (contentment)
Tapas (heat; spiritual austerities)
Svadhyaya (study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self)
Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)

3. Asana (the poses)
4. Pranayama (breath)
5. Pratyahara (looking inward, withdrawal of the senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation or contemplation)
8. Samadhi (the state of being intensely present without judgment of whatever is)

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