Eight Limbs of Yoga
The Eight Limbs of Yoga Introduction
In this lesson, we introduce the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Objective: Gain an understanding of the intention, teachings and tools of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Description: Introduce each of the Eight Limbs: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Explain why the last three limbs are in a different chapter than the first five. Translate and describe each of the limbs and present the reasoning behind the position that the yamas are the most important limb.
Yamas & Niyamas Overview
In this lesson, we review the first and second limbs of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances), and provide an overview of each.
Objective: Become familiar with the general subject matter of the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) as a whole and individually.
Description: Describe the yamas and niyamas as a whole. Define yama. Explain what, in general, the yamas describe. Define niyama. Explain what, in general, the niyamas describe. Provide considerations for teaching the yamas and niyamas related to ethics, morality and internal vs. external effects. Note which sutras describe the yamas and niyamas. Define and succinctly describe each yama and each niyama. Provide considerations for teaching yoga philosophy in general, and the yamas and niymasin particular.
Asana Philosophy & Theory
In this lesson, we examine the third limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, asana (posture).
Objective: Memorize and understand sutras 2.46 to 2.49 and become familiar with philosophical perspectives regarding the purpose and benefits of asana.
Description: Recite and translate sutras 2.46 to 2.49 from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which define asana, explain what constitutes proper practice of asana, and describe the results of practice. Provide a traditional perspective on what defines health and fitness. Explore words of wisdom from teachers of various lineages regarding the purpose and benefits of asana.
Pranayama Philosophy & Theory
In this lesson, we examine the fourth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, pranayama (breath practices).
Objective: Become familiar with the meaning and deeper philosophical perspectives on the purpose and effects of pranayama(breath practices).
Description: Describe how pranayama is presented in The Yoga Sutras. Describe the context from which pranayama is best understood. Define the Sanskrit word, pranayama. Provide a succinct and practical description of the philosophy behind pranayama. Describe ways that life force energy is received and ways that it’s expended, and how pranayama relates to life force energy. Describe, from a philosophical perspective, the result of successful pranayama practice.
Pratyahara Philosophy & Theory
In this lesson, we examine the fifth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, pratyahara (sensory withdrawal).
Objective: Become familiar with the meaning and deeper philosophical perspectives of pratyahara (sensory withdrawal) and the key role it plays in the practice of yoga.
Description: Define pratyahara and describe the key role it plays in the practice of yoga. Explain how pratyahara is related to concentration and meditation. Describe where the senses are being directed in pratyahara practice.
In this lesson, we introduce a variety of pratyahara teachings and practices.
Objective: Become familiar with the broad categories of pratyahara practice and learn specific techniques.
Description: Describe the general types of practices that are included in the category of pratyahara. Explain which of the senses can make it easier to control the rest. Define trataka. Explain how and why visualization can serve as a pratyahara practice. Provide an example of a mudra that is considered a pratyahara technique.
Dharana Philosophy & Theory
In this lesson, we review the sixth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, dharana (concentration).
Objective: Become familiar with the meaning and deeper philosophical perspectives of dharana (concentration) and its vital role in the practice of meditation.
Description: Provide a meaning for dharana as it is often defined and give an alternative definition as well. Describe the process of dharana and explain how it’s related to meditation.
In this lesson, we introduce a variety of considerations and teachings related to the practice of dharana.
Objective: Become familiar with dharana teaching considerations including choosing an object of contemplation and supporting the development of sustained attention.
Description: Explain why the object of contemplation is important and what might indicate that an object isn’t a wise choice. Give examples of objects of concentration. Provide an important teaching about the nature of the mind and the practice of concentration.
Dhyana Philosophy & Theory
In this lesson, we examine the seventh limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, dhyana (meditation).
Objective: Become familiar with the meaning and deeper philosophical perspectives of dhyana (meditation) and how its meaning in the Yoga Sutras is different from common usage of the term “meditation.”
Description: Define dhyana and describe how common usage of the term meditation is different from how it’s used in the Yoga Sutras. Explain the distinctions between dhyana and dharana and between dhyana and pratyahara.
Dhyana Teachings & Inspiration
In this lesson, we explore additional dhyana teachings to inspire meditation practitioners of all experience levels.
Objective: Become familiar with dhyana teachings that can inspire both beginners and more experienced practitioners.
Description: Describe how dhyana might be experienced in everyday life — outside of seated meditation. Explain potential signs of having been in a state of meditation.
In this lesson, we examine the eighth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, samadhi (absorption).