Ashtanga yoga - Yoga of eight limbs

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1. Yama यम

The first limb, yama, deals with one's ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life.

The five yamas are:

♡Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings
♡Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood
♡Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
♡Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint
♡Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness

2. Niyama नियम

Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances.

The five niyamas are:

♡Śauca (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
♡Santoṣa (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others and of one's circumstances as they are, optimism for self
♡Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance
♡Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions
♡Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

3. Asana आसन

In yoga, an asana is a posture in which a practitioner sits. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines "asana" as "to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed". Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system, known as ashtanga yoga.

Asanas are also performed as physical exercise where they are sometimes referred to as "yoga postures" or "yoga positions". Some asanas are performed just for health purposes. Asanas do promote good health, although in different ways compared to physical exercises, "placing the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation and concentration".

4. Pranayama प्राणायाम

Prāṇāyāma is a Sanskrit word alternatively translated as "extension of the prāṇa (breath or life force)" or "breath control." The word is composed from two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force (noted particularly as the breath), and either ayama (to restrain or control the prana, implying a set of breathing techniques where the breath is intentionally altered in order to produce specific results) or the negative form ayāma, meaning to extend or draw out (as in extension of the life force).

5. Pratyahara प्रत्याहार

Pratyahara, the fifth limb, means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves.

6. Dharana धारणा

is translated as "collection or concentration of the mind (joined with the retention of breath)", or "the act of holding, bearing, wearing, supporting, maintaining, retaining, keeping back (in remembrance), a good memory", or "firmness, steadfastness, ... , certainty".This term is related to the verbal root dhri to hold, carry, maintain, resolve. Dharana is the noun. Dhāraṇā is the initial step of deep concentrative meditation, where the object being focused upon is held in the mind without consciousness wavering from it.

7. Dhyana ध्यान

Meditation or contemplation, the seventh stage of ashtanga, is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, a fine line of distinction exists between these two stages. Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus. At this stage, the mind has been quieted, and in the stillness it produces few or no thoughts at all.

8. Samadhi समाधि
refers to a state of meditative consciousness. It is a meditative absorption or trance, attained by the practice of dhyāna. In samādhi the mind becomes still. It is a state of being totally aware of the present moment; a one-pointedness of mind. Samadhi is an exalted state of consciousness achievable only by advanced practitioners of meditation.

Namaste 🙏🏻