8 limbs of Patanjalis’ Yoga

Yama – Restraints. The yamas are meant to help regain your balance, in life and mind. They include five “wise characteristics”:

Ahimsa – Nonviolence in thought word and deed

Satya – Truthfulness

Asteya – Non-Stealing

Brahmacharya – Sense Control

Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth

Niyama – Observances. The niyamas, meaning “rules” are focused on personal observances. Just as the yama, there are five pillars to its success:

Sauca – Nonviolence in thought word and deed

Santosa – Contentment

Tapas – To Burn burning zeal

Svadhyaya – Self-Study

Isvarapranidhana – Surrender to God or Higher Power or Spiritual Understanding

Asana – Posture. Asana includes both meditation postures, its primary meaning, and the poses used in hatha yoga to build health and self-awareness. It’s the most known since it relates to the body postures within the ancient art of Yoga.

Pranayama – Control and Expansion of Energy. The breath is used to relax and steady nerves, improve concentration, and expand energy

Pratyahara – Sense-Withdrawal. Through systematic relaxation the senses are naturally calmed and the mind is lead inward. “Ahara” means “nourishment” while “pratyaha” can be translated “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses”.  It is based in shifting senses from attachment towards the satisfaction of self-realization and inner peace.

Dharana – Concentration. Dharana, or “immovable concentration of the mind”, is the idea of concentrating and focusing attention in a single direction.

Dhyana – Meditation. When the effort to concentrate can be relaxed and held steady, the unbroken flow of concentration is called meditation. “His body, breath, senses, mind, reason and ego are all integrated in the object of his contemplation – the Universal Spirit.”

Samadhi – Self-Realization. “To bring together, to merge.” To reach Samadhi is going beyond consciousness; it’s reaching the ultimate point in the ancient art of Yoga.

Yoga is one the oldest arts for a reason. Its ancient practice in meditation, the unification of breathing and movement, and journey towards peace has brought relief and comfort to people from all walks of life.