Ashtanga Yoga : Eight-limbed Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is literally known as the eight-limbed Yoga according to the Yoga Sutras of the Sage Patanjali. According to Patanjali, these are the spiritual practices that which reveals Universal Self by way of internal purification. For remaining calm and still, Patanjali presents Ashtanga Yoga or The Eight Limbs of Yoga which includes the following.

Yama (moral codes)
Niyama (self-purification and study)
Asana (posture)
Pranayama (breath control)
Pratyahara (sense control)
Dharana (concentration)

Dhyana (meditation)
Samadhi (contemplation)

Yama and Niyama are considered as the fundamental moral teachings. These basically deal with the kind of attitude one should possess for dealing with the outside world and about one-self. The attitude shown towards the society is dealt with in Yama and one’s relation to self is being dealt in Niyama. Though these are part of Ashtanga Yoga, they cannot be physically practiced.

The Asanas and Pranayamas which are the third and fourth limbs can be practiced and they help in keeping one aware of his position and the perspective towards life. All these four limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (yama, Niyama, Asana and PRanayama) are considered as external cleansing practices. The Yama and Niyama consist of commonsense guidelines that help in bringing about a positive attitude in an individual and helps in leading a happier, healthier life.

The fifth limb Pratyahara is the withdrawal of oneself from external attachments or remaining detached. Dharana and Dhyana deals with concentration and meditation. Samadhi (contemplation) is a state when an individual attains a unity of himself with his mind through powerful concentration. These last three limbs Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are considered as the internal limbs of yoga.