The 8-Limbed Path to Yoga

The word “Yoga” can be translated as union or connection, and Patanjali’s 8-Limbed Path is the way to achieve this union.  The union may be seen as union with the Divine, or maybe even union of mind, body and spirit.  I like to think that it is called a path of limbs because it is not a linear path but rather a puzzle shaped like a tree – when you have put each of the eight limbs into place, the puzzle will be complete and you will achieve Yoga.  So, what are the eight limbs?  If you already have a Yoga practice then you can be sure that some of the pieces of the puzzle are already in place.  The first of the eight are the Yamas, which are basically our rules for dealing with others.  The second limb is the Niyamas, which are the rules for our relationship to ourselves.  You can read about the Yamas and the Niyamas in some of my other posts.  The third limb is asana postures and mudras, which I’m sure you’re already practicing.  Number four is pranayama, or breath work.  The fifth, sixth and seventh are Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana, which are all related to meditation and which we’ll discuss in future posts.  The eighth, and fittingly the final limb, is reaching Samadhi – absorption in the spirit, enlightenment and liberation.  How many of the eight puzzle pieces do YOU already have in place?

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