Ashtanga Yoga - Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Patanjali, an ancient sage, defined yoga as the ‘restraining of thought waves'. He compiled ‘Patanjali's Yoga Sutras', the aphorisms of yoga, in which he provides an eight-limbed approach for the well-being and purification of body, mind and soul. This eight-limbed approach, known as Ashtanga Yoga, is not to be mistaken as a step-by-step approach but a multidimensional approach in which all eight limbs are practised simultaneously.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Yamas and its complement, Niyamas, represent a series of ‘right living’ or ethical rules.

Yamas - the five social ethics

  • Ahimsa - Non-violence in action, speech and thoughts
  • Satyam - Truthfulness in intention, remaining established in the higher truth
  • Asteya - Non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya - Divine conduct, celibate when single, faithful when married
  • Aparigraha - Not accumulating things unnecessarily and not desiring things that belong to others.

Niyamas - the five personal ethics

  • Saucha - Cleanliness of the body and mind
  • Santosha - Contentment, remaining happy
  • Tapas - Austerity and self-discipline
  • Swadhyaya - Study of the Self, abiding in the Self
  • Ishwarapranidhana - Surrendering to God, honouring the Divine.

Asanas - Yoga postures or postures.
Pranayamas - Proper regulation of life force (Prana) through certain breathing techniques.
Pratayahara - Taking the senses inwards.
Dharana - One-pointed focus.
Dhyana – Meditation.
Samadhi - the highest state of consciousness. This is possible to achieve during meditation