( yoga: union | sutras: aphorisms or principles )
The Yoga Sutras are a collection of guides or aphorisms to lead a life based on the principles of yoga. Written by Patanjali, this short and concise work outlines the art and science of yoga as a meditation and path to self-realization. It is, put simply, a map for your journey to achieving the best possible self. This is a self that is aware, balanced, happy, and at peace.
One of the topics Patanjali covers is the 8 Limb Path of Yoga. These are the steps to achieve what some might refer to as enlightenment, pure wisdom, or a mind that is at peace and happy. It’s the elimination of unnecessary distractions, so you can clearly see your way through life.
The 8 Paths
- 5 Yamas: self-regulation
- 5 Niyamas: self-training
- Asana: posture
- Pranayama: breath expansion
- Pratyahara: looking inward or drawing the senses inward
- Dharana: concentration
- Dhyana: meditation
- Samadhi: state of complete concentration
- Ahimsa: non-violence
- Satya: honesty
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: live in the path of the universe | true reality | God
- Aparigraha: non-possessiveness
- Shaucha: purity of mind and body
- Santosha: contentment
- Tapah: training the senses
- Svadhyaya: self-study | self-reflection
- Ishvara Pranidhana [ Ishvara: universe | true reality | God ] [ Pranidhana: surrender ]
The asanas and pranayama are what physical yoga classes focus on, but most teacher trainings deal with the 5 yamas and 5 niyamas as well.