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The Eight Limbs of Yoga


The Ashtanga Path

yoga: an art and science dedicated to creating

union between body, mind and spirit.

The eightfold path known as Ashtanga, was developed from

ancient Vedic philosophy and laid out in Patanjalis Yoga
Sutra. It indicates a logical pathway that leads to the
attainment of physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather, it allows

the natural state of total health and integration in each of us
to become a reality.

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Yamas Universal Morality

Broken down into five characteristics, Yamas show our fundamental
nature consists of compassion, generosity, honesty and peace.

1. Ahimsa Compassion for all living things

Kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things
with the responsibilities adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.

2. Satya Commitment to Truthfulness

This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and
action are key to the foundation of any healthy relationship or community.

3. Asteya Non-stealing
Not taking anything that has not been freely given or misusing that which
has. This includes fostering a consciousness of how we ask for others time.

4. Brahmacharya Sense control

Form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths and
using our energy to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self.

As roots are a principal element for a healthy growing tree, 5. Aparigraha Generosity of spirit & action
Yamas are the foundation for living a clear and honorable life. With an understanding that change is the only constant, do not take more
YO H than what is necessary and avoid attachment with things.
Niyama Personal Observances
The five characteristics of niyamas refer to the attitude we adopt
toward ourselves as we create a code for living soulfully.

1. Sauca Purity
While maintaining outer cleanliness, our inner cleanliness has to do with the
healthy functioning of our bodily organs and clarity of our mind.

2. Santosa Contentment
There is a purpose for everything and we should cultivate a contentment
'to accept what happens'. From lifes difficulties comes a process of growth.

3. Tapas Disciplined use of our energy

Direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal
of creating union with nature/the Divine.

4. Svadhyaya Self study

Find self-awareness in all our activities while welcoming and accepting our
limitations. Also be centered and non-reactive to self-destructive tendencies.

As the trunk connects the absorbing roots to its leafy crown. 5. Isvarapranidhana Celebration of the Spiritual
Niyama reinforces purity throughout the body and mind. The spiritual suffuses everything and through our attention and care we can
YO H attune ourselves with our role as part of the Creator.
Pratyahara Control of the Senses
In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from at-
tachment to external objects.

When our senses stop living off of things that stimulate, the senses no
longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more.
So with the practice of non-attachment to sensorial distractions, we can
constantly return to the path of self realization and achievement of
internal peace.

Senses naturally follow the mind. So when we meditate, Pratyahara

occurs almost automatically because we are so absorbed in the object
of meditation and the senses do not crave stimulates. This separation
from stimulants allows the senses to be extraordinarily sharp.

In a sense, yoga is nothing more than a process which enables us to stop
E IG and look at the natural processes of our own minds; only in this way can

As bark contains a tree's essence and protects it from outer elements,
we understand the nature of happiness and unhappiness, and transcend
Pratyahara focuses on inward awareness and objective reflection.
them both.
Concentration & Awareness
The general purpose of Dharna is to stop the mind from wandering
through memories, dreams, or reflective thought so our mind, intellect,
and ego are "all restrained and all these faculties are offered to the Lord
for His use and in His service. Here there is no feeling of 'I' and 'mine'."

By focusing in one direction, other activities of the mind fall away. Then
by holding this concentration, the mind can be stilled and achieve this
state of complete absorption.

When the mind has become purified by yoga practices, it becomes able
to focus efficiently on one subject or point of experience. Only then can
HTFOLD we can unleash the great potential for inner healing.

As sap absorbs and transfers the tree's inner energy to link it as one,
Dharana uses focused intent to absorb and promote inner growth.
Asanas - Body Postures
The practice of moving the body into postures has widespread benefits;
the most underlying are improved health, strength, balance and flexibil-

On a deeper level the practice of asanas can be used as a tool to calm
the mind and move into the inner essence of being. The challenge of
poses offers the practitioner the opportunity to explore and control all
aspects of their emotions, concentration, intent, faith, and unity between
the physical and the ethereal body.

Asana then become a way of exploring our mental attitudes and

strengthening our will as we learn to release and move into the state of
grace that comes from creating balance between our material world
and spiritual experience.
E IG The key to fostering this expansion of awareness and consciousness

As branches become strong and flexible when moving with the wind,
begins with the control of breath, the fourth limb Pranayama.
Anasas are physical postures which challenge and strenghen our will.
Pranayama - Breath Control
Pranayama controls the energy (prana) within the organism, in order
to restore and maintain health and to promote evolution. When the
in-flowing breath is neutralized or joined with the out-flowing breath,

then perfect relaxation and balance of body activities are realized.

Pranayama goes hand in hand with many of the other elements in the
eightfold path.

The practices produce the actual physical sensation of heat, called

tapas, or the inner fire of purification. This heat is part of the process of
purifying nerve channels of the body which allows for a more healthful
state to be experienced and allows the mind to become more calm.

The rhythmic pattern of breathing strengthen the respiratory system,

soothes the nervous system and reduces cravings. This sets the mind
E IG free to become a fit vehicle for concentration.

As the leaves draw energy and nutrients from the earth's elements,
Pranayama draws in life force through the practice of breath control.
Devotion , Meditation on the Divine
The concept holds that when one focuses their mind in concentration on
an object, the mind is transformed into the shape of the object. Hence,
when one focuses on the divine they become more reflective of it and
they know its true nature.

Consciousness is further unified by combining clear insights into

distinctions between objects and the subtle layers of perception.

As we fine-tune our concentration and become more aware of the

nature of reality we achieve a state of freedom where unhappiness,
fear, and even the fear of death vanishes.

HTFOLD This state can be reached by using meditation as a tool to see things

As flowers are the blooming result of a healthy tree, free from decay, clearly and to constant inquiry into the nature of things.
Dyana uses uninterrupted concentration to reveal an enlightened reality.
Samadhi - Union with the Divine
In this final step in the eight-fold path of Yoga, one is to merge all the
previous steps together.

In the state of samadhi the body and senses are at rest, as if asleep, yet
the faculty of mind and reason are alert, as if awake; one goes beyond

We realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a

liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness. The conscious mind drops back
into that unconscious oblivion from which it first emerged.

The mind does not distinguish between self and non-self, or between
the object contemplated and the process of contemplation. The mind
and the intellect have stopped and there is only the experience of con-
sciousness, truth and unutterable joy.

As the fruit is the result of a tree's elements functioning in unity,
Samadhi is the blissful essence of realizing our true identity.