patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga - ashtanga
author of yoga sutras
In history of Yoga, Saint Patanjali is the only person that seem to feature in the mythological thought as well as the historical thought.
The oldest and most relevant text which lays the foundation principles of what yoga is, has been written by Saint Patanjali in his book called Yogasutras approximately 2000 - 2500 years ago.
Mythology says Patanjali was reincarnation of Sheshnaag ( the serpent that Lord Vishnu rests upon) and he pleased Vishnu to be sent on Earth , so that he could do something for mankind for which he could be remembered. Lord Vishnu blessed him and in this avatar, he wrote the most relevant text on Yoga called Yoga Sutras. In this text he laid down the principle of Ashtanga or 8 legs of Yoga, which defines what Yoga is.
The mention of subject of Yoga shall always remain incomplete without the mention of Saint Patanajali who penned down a dedicated book on the subject of Yoga called Yoga Sutras. This is the oldest historical book that can be found on this subject.
What makes this scripture even more interesting is that Patanjali defines 8 legs or practices, which when come together complete the practice of Yoga. This is known as Ashta ( 8 ) Tanga ( legs )
This Ashtanga is not the physical style of asanas, that have their origin in Mysore under guru ship of P.B. Jois.
Ashtanga are eight legs that guide us, if our Yoga practice is really complete or incomplete.
the real ashtanga or 8 legs of yoga
1. Yama ( Do not do )
a. SATYA - Do not lie
b. ASTEYA not steal
c. BHRAMCHARYA -Refrain from sexual energy
d. AHIMSA - Do not hurt / kill / harm
e. APARIGRAHA - Do not accumulate. Take as much as your need right now.
2. Niyama ( Follow these )
a. SAUCHA - Cleanliness of environment, body and mind
b. SANTOSHA - Be happy with whatever you have . No craving
c. TAPAS - Persevere in your path of yoga. It is bound to become difficult.
d. SWADHAYA - Self study & study of scriptures by other Yogis.
e. ISHWAR PRANIDHANA - Seeing energy of Universe in everything people, objects, animals and every moment of life.
3. Asanas ( Exercises )
Physical exercises to attain better health and concentration.
4. Pranayama ( Breath Yoga )
Manipulation of breath to regularize it, balance it, and restore calmness of mind to advance into meditation.
5. Pratyahara ( Withdraw In )
Withdraw your senses and attention inside away, from everything outside.
6. Dharana ( Concentration )
Focus on any one object in your meditation.
7. Dhyana ( Meditation )
Start the act of your meditation
8. Samadhi ( Stillness )
Very commonly misunderstood as enlightenment, it refers to the act of becoming absolutely still or attain stillness of body and mind during meditation.