Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian Philosophy that enhances personal growth and well-being. It can be traced all the way back to Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga:
1. Yama (moral disciplines and restraints)
2. Niyama (personal observances)
3. Asana (body poses)
4. Pranayama (breathing exercise)
5. Pratyahara (control of senses)
6. Dharana (concentration and inner perceptual awareness)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (super-conscious state).
The first two limbs of yoga depict how we should deal with people around us, how we can ideally shape our attitude and behaviour, and how we can channel this energy into our relationship with others and ourselves. In simpler terms, Yama is the attitude that we have towards others outside of ourselves, and Niyama is how we relate to ourselves inwardly.
The third limb of yoga, Asana, is the practice of physical postures, commonly known aspect of yoga for those unfamiliar with the other seven limbs of Patanjali’s yoga. The physical body postures and movements help to improve our health, build our strength and balance, and increase our flexibility.
Pranayama, fourth limb of yoga, is all about breath control to restore and maintain health. Pranayama often complement with Asana which helps to balance and expand vital energy in the chakra system without movement of thoughts.
Pratyahara, fifth limb of yoga, refers to withdrawal of senses attached to external objects and subjects, and moving consciousness inwards. In other words, we disunite the link between our mind and senses to our external environment. As such, we are able to allow vital energy to flow back within and concentrate without distractions and temptations.
The sixth limb of yoga, Dharana, is to concentrate and cultivate inner perceptual awareness on a single point. In Dharana, we can steady our mind by focusing in one direction while being able to express our mind within a short time.
The seventh limb of yoga, Dhyana means devotion and meditation. A form of concentration with the intention of knowing the truth that lies within. Consciousness is unified by having clear differentiation of reality and perception with greater awareness.
Attainment of Samadhi is the eighth and final limb of yoga. In Samadhi state, we are in super-conscious state with both our body and mind at rest (as if asleep). The mind does not distinguish between self and non-self, thus unifying with nature in space.
In layman context, the main philosophy of yoga is a union of our mind, body and soul. Yoga can be seen as both an art and science; an art of waking up our body and a science of gaining deeper understanding and appreciation of our body, and to find back our true lost self. It is a tool to find what feels good for the mind, body and soul.
Suanern || Mar Weekday 200 hrs TTC

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