Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
“In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (astha=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature” - Mara Carrico, Yoga Journal
The art of living and the foundations of yoga philosophy were described in the Yoga Sutra, compiled and systematized by Patanjali. He claimed that “in order to still and observe the mind, there are 195 sutras (sutra means thread) which are essentially an ethical blueprint of living a moral life and incorporating the science of yoga into your life.” The Yoga Sutra is considered the fundamental text on the system of yoga.
The heart of Patanjali’s teachings is the eightfold path of yoga. It is also called the eight “limbs” of Patanjali, because they intertwine like the branches of a tree in the forest. This is where the term ashtanga” – (ashta)-limb (anga) practice – refers to. The eight limbs of yoga transcend creed, country, age and/or time.
The limbs of yoga make you aware of where you are, where you stand, and how you look at things. Recognizing your mistakes is the first sign of clarity. Then gradually you try to bring about some changes in the way you show your respect to nature or relate to others. No one can change in a day, but yoga practices help change attitudes over a lifetime.