EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA
No matter how the physical practices of yoga evolve or change, the core philosophy does not.
Patanjali, who is considered the father of the yogic philosophy, broke the practice down into
what he called the Eight Limbs of Yoga:
1 Yama Self-restraint. This pillar outlines five specific ways to practice self-restraint:
• Do no harm (ahimsa )
• Practice honesty (satya )
• Do not steal (asteya )
• Do not waste energy (brahmacharya )
• Practice non-greed (aparigraha )
2 Niyama How to act in the world.
There are five ways to practice how to act:
EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA Photo Gallery
• Cleanliness (saucha )
• Contentment (santosha )
• Heat, or effort, to work through challenges (tapas )
• Self-study (svadhyaya )
• Acknowledgment that there is something bigger out there than ourselves (Isvara Pranidhana )
3 Asana The physical postures of a yoga practice, or the poses.
4 Pranayama The regulation of life force through the breath.
5 Pratyahara The practice of withdrawing the mind from the senses.
6 Dharana The ability to concentrate on one thing and let all else fall away.
7 Dhyana Meditation.
8 Samadhi The divine union of the individual with the universal, or moments of balance between mind and body.
Today’s yogis draw from all previous periods of yoga. Teachers still frequently reference ancient texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. Modern yogis emphasize poses and ways to unite the body and mind with the breath. In fact, the dynamic yoga we know and practice today was innovated by the teacher known as the father of modern yoga, Krishnamacharya (1888-1988), as a blend of ancient poses and Western gymnastics and wrestling.
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