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).
Patanjali's Eight Limb Path
Key Facts In This Video
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
Patanjali described asana as the practice of sitting for extended periods of time while keeping the mind steady. 04:34
Dharana is the transition into deep meditation (dyana). 07:27
Wake up with the smartest email in your inbox.
Our Best Articles Daily