The eight limbs of yoga are: yama (self-restraint), niyama (right observance), asana (right alignment), pranayama (regulation of breath), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (free attention).
Ashta means eight; anga means limbs or branches, like the branches of a tree or the limbs of a body. The tree symbolism of the eight limbs of yoga is representative of the holistic nature of yoga practice and yoga exercise as there are no fragments in union, which is what yoga means. Thus each limb has its distinction and the sequence of limbs reflect a natural growth pattern, yet the understanding is more about the complementary relationship of a particular limb to the whole in yoga practice. Additionally the first five limbs are regarded as outer limbs and the last three are regarded as internal limbs.
Eight Limbs Patanjali Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga are:
Yama â self restraint
Niyama â right observance
Asana â right alignment/posture
Pranayama â breath/life force regulation
Pratyahara â sense withdrawal/reversal
Dharana â concentration
Dhyana â meditation
Samadhi â freedom; absorption; union
Ashtanga Yoga [ashta = 8 anga = limb]Â There are five Yamas and also five Niyamas â they are:
Ahimsa: without violating natural order; non-harming
Satya: truthfulness; non-illusion; true being
Asteya: non-stealing; honesty
Brahmacharya: non-excess; right use of energy
Aparigraha: non-possessiveness; without greed
Tapas: heat; self-discipline
Isvara pranidhana: surrender
Asana is the limb that many people are familiar with as yoga posture practice and yoga exercise.Â It means mindfulness of postural alignment that optimize the flow of vital energy and activities that keep the body disease-free. Correct postures are a physical aid to meditation, for they control the limbs and nervous system and prevent them from producing disturbances. When asana practice is considered in the light of the other limbs of yoga it is clear that the founders of yoga regarded alignment and posture to be more than physical in nature.
With right alignment, the regulation of the flow of breath in and out is pranayama.
Prana means motion, flow. It is the flow of life force, energy, without which life ends in a matter of minutes. The central current of this flow is breathing as respiration and circulation, or breath flow and blood flow, wherein exhalation and inhalation is breath flow into and out of the body/form and blood flow is flow within the body as flow through arteries and flow through veins.
Breathing awareness is a means of being anchored in the present moment. It is the link between the body and mind as breathing is more subtle than the body and more gross than the mind. In this light it is no surprise that all approaches to meditation include some form of breathing awareness or breath regulation.
Pranayama means energy-control. It transcends the sphere of external and internal, without denying it, and is considered to be a portal to the fourth level- the vital.
Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. It is the fifth limb of yoga and the one that represents the transition from the exterior to the interior. This transition is accomplished via withdrawing attention from the objects of perception and attending to the perceiving itself. This shift of attention reveals the essential nature of the mind such that self-awareness flowers.
Dharana DhyanaÂ Samadhi
Dharana DyanaÂ and Smadhi are the interior limbs. Together they are Samyana, which means Total Attention.
Dharana means concentration.It is the quality of attention that is when the mind is held in one place, focused.
Dhayana means meditation. It is the quality of attention that is when there is an uninterrupted flow of awareness to either the whole or to awareness itself.
Samadhi means freedom, union or absorption. It is the case when the I-entity, identity as a separate self, is not such that there is an absence and self-shining Presence is as attention to and aswhat is.
Samyana means total attention. It is realized when all three forms of attention as Dharana, Dhyana ans Samadhi are practiced together. Total attention is the means of insight whereby the suchness of being is understood by being it.
James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of Jamesâ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely for 15 years.
James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of Jamesâ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely