8 limbs of Yoga as explained by Patanjali

8 limbs of Yoga as explained by Patanjali

Bhagawan Krishna has defined Yoga as “Yogah karmasu koushalam”, I.e. Yoga is action done skillfully and to the best of one’s ability.

Since it well known that Yoga takes a prominent holistic health approach considering each person as an individual. In situations when disease is there, yoga is performed only as an adjunct to medical treatment. Practically in today’s scenario, one has lot more psychological problems than physical suffering and hence for safe and effective results,  practicing yoga with trained and certified yoga teacher is necessary.

Yoga comprises not only of asanas and pranayama for improving the physical health, but it also comprises of techniques which acts on the mind and emotions, providing a complete philosophy for living. Even though Manas is Bhutasrita and Panchabhautika, it has got its own specialty and identity. Water-drops on the lotus leaf never adhere to it, but the root of the lotus is always in water and in the same way, Manas sitting within the body works in harmony with the soul. Life is union of sharer, indriya, sattva and atma. Thus mana-shareer-aatma influence each other.

In present era of fast track lifestyle, many are getting attracted to Yoga, specifically for conditions where the medical aid is being felt insufficient. However we do know that, there is critical gap in knowledge regarding how we can ethically integrate yoga into current psychology practices. Hence, complimentary and alternative approach towards treatment aimed as student–centered care is the the necessity with a shift from conventional medicare to mind-body medicine.

So, we all need to adopt ethical standards, when integrating yoga with mind–body interaction & by providing services within the boundaries of their competence and also maintaining professional role.

As per Patanjali Yoga Sutra, we have eight-fold path leading to liberation, known as the ‘Ashtanga Yoga System’ or ‘8 Limbs of Yoga’ (the word ‘ashta’ means ‘eight’ and ‘anga’ means ‘limb’) , which are :

  1. Yama – Restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows
  2. Niyama – Positive duties or observances
  3. Asana – Posture
  4. Pranayama – Breathing techniques
  5. Pratyahara – Sense withdrawal
  6. Dharana – Focused concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditative absorption
  8. Samadhi – Bliss or enlightenment

So basically with first step, Yama translates as Restraints I.e. ethics of the yoga that a student and yoga instructor makes to themselves .

To master Yama i.e. THE ETHICAL STANDARDS OF MOVING FROM THE MIND TO THE MAT, both student and the instructor needs to follow;

(1) Ahimsa :  Non-injuring any being by thought, word, and deed.

(2) Satya :  Speaking the truth in thought, word, and deed.

(3) Asteya : Non-covetousness in thought, word, and deed.

(4) Brahmcharya :  Perfect chastity in thought, word, and deed.

(5) Aparigriha :  Perfect sinlessness in thought, word, and deed..

So, through these words, I want to enlighten the truth that Maharishi Patanjali illustrated the path to liberation i.e. Kaivalya ,through eight limbs  which are interlinked. We will encapsulate the Ahimsa  also i.e. How we treat ourselves lies in the same truth, how we treat those around us?

If you feel daunted by the call of these five vows, I leave you with the lines of the SWAMI VIVEKANANDA ;


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