21 Set The 8 limbs of Astanga
‘Astanga’ literally means ‘8 limbs’ and was devised by the great sage Patanjali: he was the first to coin a systematized approach to yoga through the Yoga Sutras, one of the foundational texts of (all methods of) yoga. These 8 ‘limbs’ are an ordered set of steps, which support each other and work together to guide practioners towards the pathway of Yoga – the divine union of mind, body and soul, leading towards a state of self realization and liberation.
Patanjali describes the 8 limbs as: Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana(meditation), and Samadhi (contemplation).
Each of these branches support each other in a sequential order. For instance, a dedicated Asana practice must first be established for proper practice of Pranayama, but is also key to the development of the Yamas and Niyamas. It is only once the four more superficial limbs are firmly established, that the last four internal limbs may be developed – and this can only happen through time and practice.