8 Limbs of Patanjali
Yoga is a philosophy and practice that emerged from streams and schools over centuries. The theoretical basic ideas and connections of this philosophy, which are mainly transmitted in the form of texts in Sanskrit, are correspondingly diverse. One of the most famous suggestions for the path of a yogi, on which most of today's yoga methods are based, is the eightfold-path according to Patanjali. The author named Patanjali describes these eight stages in about AD 200 in the yoga sutra. In order to embark on the path to enlightenment, one should practice all of these 8 stages.
The limbs of Patanjali yoga practice is a 2,000-year-old tradition that spiritual gurus such as Swami Sivananda advocate as a way of life. The 8 limbs refer to key principles according to Indian Yoga traditions, comprising moral behavioral codes with their purpose is to live a disciplined social life while finding union with the Divine through specific prescribed practices.
The five Yamas, or "abstentions," are rules of ethical behavior including rules about how to behave towards others. Each Yama has a counter that reflects some action that is either prohibited or discouraged. Nobody lives alone in this world. Therefore, everyone must deal properly with other beings. Those who control themselves are able to give life the right direction.
- means the absence of injustice, cruelty, and non-violence. It reinforces to not harm any creature or being in any way.
- encourages always speaking the facts without exaggeration and deals with the issues of honesty, sincerity, faithfulness, and loyalty towards oneself and others.
- requires refraining from stealing the belongings of others.
-means movement towards the essential.
- means "hands-off", "don't seize the opportunity".
The 5 Yamas all interact with each other and none exist independently of the other 4 Yamas. They are always intertwined and belong together like the steps on a ladder, with each step having equal importance.
Along with the five Yamas, the five Niyamas are also considered principles or disciplines on the path to enlightenment.
While the Yamas are predominantly recommendations for behavior in the outside world, i.e. social interaction, the 5 Niyamas are more self-related and are aimed at the thoughts and feelings of the practitioner.
- translated as cleanliness - this Niyama has a connection to the word sanitation meaning that one should dispel difficulty by maintaining places clean and garbage free.
Sauca also means physical, mental and spiritual purity, cleanliness.
- translated as contentment, here people acknowledge the beauty in a non-material form rather than the things they possess. It also teaches acceptance of their failures and tragedies to lessen the emotional effects.
- translated as austerity - tapas is considered a positive virtue in order to prevent having what you want or abandoning what one already has for something else unrealized. Tapas must be maintained for justice to stay alive on
- translated as self-reflection - it's about the reflection of the own ego - recognizing oneself, also being able to criticize oneself.
- translated as devotion -
It’s the devotion to God or creation. It doesn't matter how God or the highest is defined.
Be it a personal deity or a universal princip
Made up of the two words prana ("life energy") and Ayama ("expansion, control"; i.e.: "control over life energy") Pranayama includes the various breathing exercises of yoga.
With the help of the breathing exercises we learn to consciously perceive and control our breath again - and thus activate our life energy and get it flowing. When we calm our breath, we also calm our minds. Pranayama is the conscious connection of breath and mind.
In Pratyahara, the senses are turned inwards the connection of the mind and senses is severed.
They no longer react to external stimuli. The spirit is no longer nourished from the outside. The senses rest – they focus on the inside. It is turning the attention inwards. Today's people are so externally oriented that an inner view seems almost impossible, but can certainly be worked out in a disciplined manner.
Concentration, Dharana, means focusing the mind on a single point. During Dharana, the mind becomes calm, balanced, and steady.
You willingly focus your attention on one object, perceiving only that and trying to block out everything else. In Dharana, you make an effort to keep the object of concentration in your mind and observe everything closely.
Dharana is meant to prepare you for meditation. Only a calm mind is open to new, perhaps spiritual, experiences.