Eight Limbs of Yoga (with a nod to Patanjali)

Eight Limbs of Yoga (with a nod to Patanjali)

“A commitment to ethics begins with recognizing that everything we do makes waves. These waves begin in body, speech, and mind, and ripple through our lives and those around us. Although we often think of ethics as rules, an ethical way of life is also an expression of deep interconnectedness.”

-Michael Stone

Everything we do makes waves.

I say with a nod to Patanjali because the information below is my take on the Eight Limbs of Yoga as attributed to Patanjali (and was Patanjali even a real guy? Who knows!), based on what I have studied and been taught. It’s not classical, but comes from engagement with the concepts as I live and practice them, and teach them through the Bringing Yoga Philosophy to Life classes (Sunday mornings at 10 am at www.bodhitreeyogacentre.ca in Kemptville (Ontario, Canada). I make no claims that this is “the” way they should be understood; I include them here as a point of reference for students and for blog posts in this series that will refer to the Eight Limbs.

Yama: restraints; actions best avoided. These principles guide relationships with all beings (including ourselves.)

Yama: restraints; actions best avoided. These principles guide relationships with all beings (including ourselves).
a. Ahimsa: nonviolence; love.
b. Satya: non-lying; honesty.
c. Asteya: non-stealing; taking only that which is freely given; enoughness; abundance.
d. Brahmacharya: moderation; mindful consumption.
e. Aparigraha: non-attachment; letting go/acceptance of what is.

Niyama: observance; positive actions to cultivate. These principles guide a relationship with self.

a. Shaucha: “cleanliness” of thought, mind and body; letting go/non-clinging; clear-seeing; addressing obstacles to practice and removing them.
b. Santosha: happy satisfaction; good contentment. Knowing we have all we already need to be happy.
c. Tapas: literally fire; fierce love of and commitment to practice; discipline (but firmly rooted in non-clinging, non-harming, contentment, etc.)
d. Svādhyāya: self study; study our place, our self, in order to know it and include as we dis-identify from it and make room for the Self. Using the mind.
e. Ishvarapranidhana: surrender; cultivating heart-connection, through devotion or service, to “One”-ness.

The remaining six limbs

Asana: posture
Pranayama: breath regulation
Pratyahara: introversion; withdrawing attention from external distractions
Dharana: concentration; focusing the mind on a single point
Dhyana: meditation; accessing a state of flow
Samadhi: oneness; effortless, integrated being.

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