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
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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