As articles are written, they will be added here. This is a work in progress that will take a significant amount of time, and I ask your patience.
I begin, not at the beginning, but with the description of the practice that begins partway through the second chapter of the Sutras (2.28), where the method of practice is described: the Ashtanga Yoga system, the eight-limbed path. I approach my analysis of the Patanjala* system from three different angles.
To understand the implications of this practice more deeply, I have broken it down into three parts: physical, emotional, and mental, and how to improve self-understanding in each area. By taking steps to undo blockages and take active steps on each of these three levels, we can vastly improve the circumstances of our lives while gaining a deeper understanding of our own inner workings and the process of Yoga.
Like sunlight shining through a crystal, we examine the beams of light individually before they recombine, lighting our way.
The limbs are:
- Yama – Restraints
- Niyama – Pursuits
- Saucha – Cleanliness
- Santosha – Contentment
- Tapas – Efforts
- Svadhyaya – Studies
- Ishvarapranidhara – Surrender of the ego
- Asana – Posture
- Pranayama – Breath/Energy Expansion
- Pratyahara – Control of the Senses
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Absorption
This system encompasses every activity and practice of the Yogi.
*Note on terminology: I use the term “Patanjala Yoga” to refer to the schools that claim their heritage in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This is synonymous with “Ashtanga Yoga” (as distinguished from Ashtanga-Vinyasa) and “Classical Yoga.” Many modern schools of Yoga including Ashtanga-Vinyasa, Hatha, and more, claim foundation in Patanjala Yoga.