aṣṭāṅga (pronounced 'ash-taangah' ) ~ eight parts

Patañjali codified the teaching of yoga into an method of eight parts. He advised that through consistent practice (abhyāsha) and non-attachment (vairāgya) this method will yield success.

  • 1 - YAMA Restraint

    Yama - Restraint

    Ahiṁsā - non-violence
    Satya - truth
    Asteya - non-stealing
    Brahmacarya - sexual continence
    Aparigraha - non-acquisitveness
  • 2 - NIYAMA Observance

    Niyama - Self observance

    Śauca - cleanliness
    Santoṣa - contentment
    Tapas - austerity/discipline
    ādhyāya - continual learning
    Īśvara praṇidhāna - surrender to the highest
  • 3 - ĀSANA Seated Posture

    Āsana - Posture

    II.46 Āsana is a steady comfortable posture.

    II.47 By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered.

    II.48 Thereafter, one is undisturbed by dualities.

  • 4 - PRĀṆĀYĀMA Breath regulation

    Breath regulation

    II.49 With posture acquired, the movement of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is prāṇāyāma.

    II.52 As a result, the veil over the inner light is destroyed.

    II.53 And the mind becomes fit for concentration.'

  • 5 - PRATYĀHĀRA Sense withdrawl

    Pratyahara - Sense withdrawal

    II.54 When the senses withdraw themselves from the object and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyāhāra.

    II.55 Then follows supreme mastery over the senses.
  • 6 - DHĀRAṆĀ Focus

    Dharana - Concentration

    III.1 Dhāraṇā is fixing the the mind to one place, object or idea.
  • 7 - DHYĀNA Absorption

    Dhyana - Meditation

    III.2 When awareness flows evenly towards the point of attention, this is known as Dhyāna.
  • 8 - SAMĀDHI Clear Perception

    Samadhi - Clear perception

    III.3 Samādhi is that condition of illumination, where union disappears, only the meaning of the object on which the attention is fixed is present.

*Translation: Swami Satchidananda


 Practice of the eight limbs of yoga is the means of eradicating impurities, just as an axe is the means of severing wood.- Vyāsa's commentary 2-28 -