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Introduction to Yoga Philosophy - The Eight Limbs of Yoga

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The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga

As prescribed in the second pada of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are:
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

It is helpful to replace any hurtful or negative
thoughts or behaviors that arrise with opposite ones.


Five peaceful behaviors or moral principles.
  • Ahimsa (non-violence) Harmlessness to others, nature
    and ourselves in thoughts, words and actions.
  • Satya (Truthfulness) Truth in word, thought and deed.
  • Asteya (non-stealing) To the extent that one should
    not even desire something that is not his own.
  • Brahmacharya (God centered behavior) Divinity.
  • Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) non-attachment


    Five holistic observances
  • Saucha (cleanliness) purity of body & mind.
  • Santosha (contentment) satisfaction with what one has.
  • Tapas (transformative practice) and associated observances for body discipline
    & thereby mental control.
  • Svadhyaya (study or self inquiry) to know about God and the soul,
    which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within,
  • Ishvarapranidhana (surrender) to God.


    Discipline of the body: rules and postures to keep it disease-free and for preserving vital energy. Correct postures are a physical aid to meditation, for they control the limbs and nervous system and prevent them from producing disturbances.


    Life force/breath regulation/control. Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath. The practice of pranayama purifies and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.


    Withdrawal of senses from their external objects.


    Concentration/focus of the citta/mind upon an object, such as a mantra, flame of a lamp, the mid point of the eyebrows, or the image of divinity.


    Steadfast meditation. Undisturbed flow of thought around the object of meditation. The act of meditation and the object of meditation remain distinct and separate.


    Oneness. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation.

  • om

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