Patanjali's Eight Limb Path

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).

10:21

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. (0:09)

  • 2

    Patanjali described asana as the practice of sitting for extended periods of time while keeping the mind steady. (4:34)

  • 3

    Dharana is the transition into deep meditation (dyana). (7:27)

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