the Eight Limbs
Raja (Ashtanga) Yoga
The eight limbs explained
The whole purpose of these eight instructions is to help us GET INTO SUCCESSFUL MEDITATION and to ACHIEVE SELF REALIZATION. Knowing this you can see the logic as each set of instructions steadily reduces outer and inner distractions to this goal. You don't have to follow these instructions to become SELF REALIZED, but you may find that it helps.
The first two limbs of Yama and Niyama must be applied to each of our seven chakras. So, for example, Ahimsa (harmlessness) is applied to all seven chakras and thus applies to all our behaviours; to ourself and to others.
To achieve the aim
each of the eight limbs is necessary
and equal to the others
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are, in significant order:
- Yama (abstinence):
- Ahimsa: Harmlessness, non-violence; in action, thought and emotion.
- Satya: Honesty, truthfulness, straightforwardness, no lying or deceit.
- Asteya: Non-stealing.
- Brahmacharya: Conscious self mastery by understanding, purifying and mastering the seven chakras.
- Aparigraha: Non-greed, non-miserliness, not hoarding or misusing things.
- Niyama (observances):
- Saucha: Purity, cleanliness; in action, thought and emotion.
- Samtosha: Contentment, humility, gratitude, appreciation.
- Tapah: Accepting, not escaping from, some necessary pains as part of the purification and learning process of holistic growth. Especially concerning mental/emotional suffering connected to selfish, bad or inappropriate behaviour that gives rise to guilt, regret, shame, embarrassment, sorrow, grief, and thus a wish to repent, learn, be forgiven. If we try to escape these things then we never learn how to improve our behaviour or have understanding and compassion for others who do the same.
- Svadhyaya: Study of spiritual books and media; like the HELM website, The Living Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, etc..
- Isvarapranidhanani: Understanding and surrendering to The One Real Self.
- Asana: Steady, comfortable, relaxed posture (not just in meditation, but in life also)
- Pranayama: Deep relaxation breathing (not just in meditation, but in life also)
- Pratyahara: Sense control. Disengaging, ignoring, and withdrawing the mind from the sense's pursuit of sense objects. For example, the tongue wanting to taste honey or the eyes wanting to watch TV.
- Dharana: Concentration.
- Dhyana: Meditation.
- Samadhi: Union, Uninterrupted absorption in the Absolute State of The One, Eternal, Immortal, Magical, Source of The Creation, Deepest Identity of All Things, and Ultimately Mysterious SELF......(that's your Real Self).
Yoga Sutras of Patanjal; 1:14
Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness.
Don't expect perfection in one day and keep at it.
I strongly suggest purchasing:
It contains the most comprehensive and easy to understand commentary by the enlightened master, Sri Swami Satchidananda. He expands in great detail the above mentioned Eight Limbs and you will gain a deep understanding of the subject from studying it. It is an INVALUABLE TOOL for any serious Yoga student.
(You can get a second hand copy from Amazon for a few dollars/pounds)