Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga – Sutras II:28 & II:29

Eight Limbs of Yoga - flower

Patanjali is known affectionately as the father of yoga. He wrote the first comprehensive manual about how to practice yoga in around 300 BC. The teachings included in his ‘Yoga Sutras’ had been passed on by word of mouth via chanting for many years before.  Artefacts and scriptures from the Indus Valley have been carbon dated and suggest that they could be up to 3000 years old.

In his book of ‘sutras’ or threads, Patanjali provides short but profound sentences about how to develop a yoga practice and what the benefits of that can be.  A simple overview of yoga can be seen in the ‘8 fold path’ or 8 limbs as is the direct translation.

The sutras were written in Sanskrit and the word  for 8 limbs is ‘ashtanga’ – ‘ashta’ means 8 and ‘anga’ means limb.  These 8 limbs or steps act as guidelines showing how to live a meaningful of live full of purpose and joy.

This process is best adopted gradually as and when one feels ready to commit. My view is to develop awareness of the controls of one’s mind and body through the practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation – just like we do in class. I think this is what Patanjali intended.

‘Eliminating impurity through continued practice of the eight limbs of yoga brings discernment and clear perception.’ Chaper 2, verse 28

‘The 8 limbs of yoga are:

Yama – respect toward others

Niyama – self restraint

Asana – posture practice

Pranayama – breath control

Pratyahara – detaching at will from the senses

Dharana – concentration

Dhyana – meditation

Samadhi – contemplation and absorption Chapter 2, verse 29

If you would like more information about this, or would like me to recommend further reading, please feel free to email me.

Published by yogadeb

Yoga teacher in Stamford, UK, and online

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