The eight limbs of yoga, also known as the „eight paths“ or „Ashtanga Yoga,“ are a classical framework for the spiritual practice of yoga, outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs are:
- Yama: ethical disciplines or restraints, including non-harming (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), sexual responsibility (brahmacharya), and non-hoarding (aparigraha).
- Niyama: personal observances, including purity (saucha), contentment (santosha), self-discipline (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and surrender to a higher power (ishvara pranidhana).
- Asana: physical postures or poses, which are used to cultivate physical strength, flexibility, and stability.
- Pranayama: breath control practices, which are used to regulate the breath and improve prana, or vital energy.
- Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses, which involves turning inward and becoming more aware of one’s own thoughts and sensations rather than being influenced by external stimuli.
- Dharana: concentration, which involves focusing the mind on a single object or thought.
- Dhyana: meditation, which involves maintaining a state of uninterrupted concentration.
- Samadhi: enlightenment or union with the Divine, which is the ultimate goal of yoga practice.
These eight limbs are meant to be followed in a sequential manner, with the understanding that each limb supports the development of the ones that follow.