Patanjali's Eight Limb Path

Compiled around 400 C.E. by Patanjali, the Yoga Sutras is considered the guidebook of classical yoga. Its 196 aphorisms include a breakdown of ashtanga, or the eight limbs. The first of the limbs is the five yamas, which can be likened to a list of "don'ts." They include ahimsa (non-violence), satya (non-falsehood), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (non-cheating), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). The next limb is the niyamas, which are essentially a list of dos: saucha (cleanliness), santosha (contentment), tapas (persistence), svadhyaya (self-study), and isvarapranidhana (contemplation of the true or higher self). The remaining six limbs are: asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath), pratyahara (withdrawal from the external world), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (ecstasy).

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Patanjali composed the Yoga Sutras, including the Eight Limb Path, during the classical period of yoga, which occurred between 200 and 800 C.E. 00:09

  2. Patanjali described asana as the practice of sitting for extended periods of time while keeping the mind steady. 04:34

  3. Dharana is the transition into deep meditation (dyana). 07:27

Written by Curiosity Staff October 8, 2015

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