The Yoga Sūtras, Patañjali’s ancient text, weaves together philosophies of body, mind, and spirit to help us create more soulful, meaningful lives. The foundation is an 8-limbed path that gives us insight into our individual minds and the whole universe. The ultimate message: WE ARE ONE.


LIMB 1: Yamas

The first limb is Yamas: ethical principles that clarify one’s relationship to the world and everything in it. The Yamas emphasize our connection to others as an integral part of yoga—everything is interconnected. They break down to five practices, which define our personal integrity:

  • Ahimsa – not harming
  • Satya – honesty
  • Asteya – not stealing
  • Bramacharya – wise use of energy
  • Aparigraha – non-possessiveness

LIMB 2: Niyamas

The second limb is Niyamas: internal disciplines that teach us to respect ourselves—body, mind, and spirit. They are forms of self-discipline as well as reflective practices. The Niyamas break down to five habits, which help us hone our Selves:

  • Saucha – purity, cleanliness
  • Santosha – contentment, gratitude
  • Tapas – discipline
  • Svadhyaya – self-reflection
  • Isvara Pranidhana – devotion

LIMB 3: Asana

The third limb is Asana: the physical practice of yoga. Of the 196 verses in the Yoga Sūtras, a mere 2 are dedicated to poses, but the practice of Asana is invaluable to cultivating a sublime meditative state. By linking breath to movement, asana teaches us to turn within.


LIMB 4: Pranayama

The fourth limb is Pranayama: the focus on the breath. Pranayama enables us to cultivate our very life force (Prana) through various techniques that teach us to relax and control our breath… creating divine conditions for health in the body and peace in the mind.


 

LIMB 5: Pratyahara

The fifth limb is Pratyahara: the withdrawing of the senses and the letting go of all the many sensations we feel, hear, see, taste, and smell. By abandoning the countless distractions of day-to-day life, the mind is free to move into meditation—the ultimate goal of yoga.


 

LIMB 6: Dharana

The sixth limb is Dharana: strict concentration on one object or task, a state in which there are no distractions. When staring into your lover’s eyes, the rest of the world is forgotten. Likewise, when you are enthralled with the object of your concentration, all else disappears.


 

LIMB 7: Dhyana

The seventh limb is Dhyana: meditation, a state in which you experience the sacred through a deeply focused awareness. Through the practice of Dhyana, we begin to see reality for what it really is: impermanence. This is how we ultimately achieve bliss on a higher plane.


 

LIMB 8: Samadhi

The eighth limb is Samadhi: the bringing together of the yoga practice, a state in which we truly know and feel that everything is interconnected. The intellect has stopped; there is only the experience of unutterable joy. A liberated soul can thus enjoy pure awareness and harmony.