8 Limbs of Patanjali

Each stage prepares us for the next. A sequence from the outer to the inner. 

1 – Yama

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Your personal ethics, sense of integrity, and how you conduct yourself. The don’ts.

The five yamas are:
Ahimsa: nonviolence
Satya: truthfulness
Asteya: non-stealing
Brahmacharya: chastity or fidelity
Aparigraha: non-possessiveness 

2 – Niyama

Self discipline and spiritual observances. The dos. 

The five niyamas are:
Saucha: cleanliness of mind, body, and speech
Samtosa: contentment
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities and self-discipline
Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self
Isvara pranidhana: contemplation of the Higher Self

3 – Asana

The postures practiced in yoga. The body is a temple of the spirit. In practicing asanas, you also develop discipline and concentration. Asanas are not complicated, muscle-aching stretches. They are a means of relaxing comfortably in a position that will not disturb the mind. The Bhasya lists twelve seated postures:

Padmasana Lotus
Virasana Hero
Bhadrasana Gracious
Svastikasana Auspicious
Dandasana Staff
Sopasrayasana Supported
Paryankasana Couch
Kraunchanishadasana Seated Heron
Hastanishadasana Seated Elephant
Ushtranishadasana Seated Camel
Samasansthanasana Evenly Balanced
Sthirasukhasana Easy

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4 – Pranayama

Breath control. As you gain awareness of the breath, you learn to recognize the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. Pranayama works either as a standalone practice (breathing exercises) or as part of a larger sadhana.

5 – Pratyahara

Sensory withdrawal. In this stage, the awareness is withdrawn away from the external world and outside stimuli. Direct your attention inwards, to the habits that might interfere with our inner growth.

6 – Dharana

Concentration. Having dealt with the distractions of the body and the outside world, you can now deal with the distractions of the mind. The concentration of earlier stages is refined; The focus of the Asanas drifts from one part of the body to another, in Pranayama it shifts with the subtle changes in the breath, and in Pratyahara is directed at self-observance. Now, in Dharana, you concentrate on a single point. 

7 – Dhyana

Meditation. The uninterrupted flow of concentration. In dharana, your awareness is focused on a single point. In dhyana, this shifts to a keen awareness without focus. The mind becomes quiet. Still

8 – Samadhi

Ecstasy. Peace. Enlightenment
Transcending the Self.