The eight limbs form represents a sequence from the outer to the inner word.
The eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb).
The eight limbs are
- yama (abstinences),
- niyama (observances),
- asana (postures),
- pranayama (breathing),
- pratyahara (withdrawal),
- dharana (concentration),
- dhyana (meditation) and
- samadhi (absorption).
Yama points towards
- ethical standards and sense of integrity,
- focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life.
Moral imperatives (the “don’ts”)
The five Yama:
- Ahimsa: nonviolence
- Satya: truthfulness
- Asteya: nonstealing
- Brahmacharya: continence
- Aparigraha: noncovetousness
Niyama includes virtuous habits and observances (the “dos”). It has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances.
The five niyamas are:
- Saucha: cleanliness, purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
- Samtosa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one’s circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self
- Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities, persistence, perseverance, austerity, asceticism, self-discipline
- Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self, study of Vedas, study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speech and actions
- Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God, contemplation of the Ishvara.
The postures practiced in yoga. The meditation posture should be steady and comfortable.
A posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless.
The control of the breath.
It consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions.
Withdrawal or sensory transcendence.
To make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli.
Cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally.
A step of self extraction and abstraction.
It empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one’s attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one’s inner world.
It is the transition of yoga experience from the first four limbs that perfect external forms, to the last three limbs that perfect the yogin’s inner state:
- moving from outside to inside, from the outer sphere of the body to the inner sphere of the spirit.
It means concentration, introspective focus and one-pointedness of mind.
Holding one’s mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of one’s mind.
Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another.
It literally means “contemplation, reflection” and “profound, abstract meditation”
Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focused on.
It is the uninterrupted flow of concentration.
It is a state of ecstasy. Its literal mean is “putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, trance”
At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether.
Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation.