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ASHTANGA:
THE 8 PETALS OF YOGA

B.K.S. Iyengar studies and teaches yoga as unfolded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika among other classical text. Thus asana are taught as one of the eight limbs or branches of yoga defined by Patanjali.

The Eight limbs of yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, are all interconnected and has numerous facets revealed through study of the texts and through practice in daily life. They lead progressively to the highest stages of awareness and to a more spiritual life.

The eight limbs include:

  • 1. Yama – Ethical Precepts of non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness(satya), non-stealing (asteya), moderation (brahmacharya) and non-coveting (aparigraha)
  • 2. Niyama – Prescribed Individual Practices of purity (saucha), contentment (santosa), discipline (tapas), study of the Self (svadhyaya) and devotion (Isvara Pranidhana)
  • 3. Asana – The yoga postures. Asana brings steadiness, health and lightness of limb. A steady and pleasant posture produces mental equilibrium and prevents fickleness of mind.
  • 4. Pranayama – Prana=vital or cosmic energy, ayama=extension,expansion. It consists of the regulation and refinement of the inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.
  • 5. Pratyahara – Emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses
  • 6. Dharana – Uninterrupted concentration, with the mind focused steadily on a particular point or object.
  • 7. Dhyana – True meditation is when the knower, the knowledge, and the known become one. This is only possible when one is in a stress-less state.
  • 8. Samadhi – This is the culmination of yoga, samadhi (blissful absorption), the final freedom whereby the individual soul merges in the ocean of being.

Invocation to Patanjali Guruji's recording of the invocation


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