Within the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is the section called Ashtanga yoga (the eight limbs of Yoga). On the one hand, they are considered to be in a linear order, but on the other hand, they keep recurring at different levels in a kind of spiraling effect that supports and enhances practice.
There are eight limbs of Yoga. These are:
The attitudes towards our environment.
The Yamas are:
- ahimsa (non-violence),
- satya (truthfulness),
- asteya (honesty),
- brahmacharya (sensual abstinence),
- aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
The attitudes towards ourselves.
The Niyamas are:
- saucha (cleanliness),
- santosha (contentment),
- tapah (austerity),
- svadhyaya (self study),
- ishvara pranidhanani (devotion)
The practise of body exercises or physical postures.
The practise of breathing exercises or breath control.
The restraint or withdrawal of our senses.
Concentration or the ability to direct our minds.
Meditation or the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand.
Ecstasy, self-realization or complete integration with the object to be understood.
Understanding and researching these eight limbs is the ground for the Yoga practitioner and teacher. They require constant practice.