Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

Sculpture of Patañjali at RIMYI, Pune, India.

More than 2,500 years ago, Sage Patanjali authored the Yoga Sutras, a written work on the subject of Astanga Yoga, the eight-limbed path towards spiritual fulfillment. The eight limbs are yama (moral conduct), niyama (personal disciplines), asana (postures), pranayama (control of the breath), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (total absorption).

It is Patanjali’s unique perspective that asanas and pranayama can be a template to explore, evaluate and experience each of the other limbs. Asana can even carry us through to the higher limbs of yoga, including pratyhara, dharana and dhyana, directing practitioners towards Samadhi, the complete freedom at the end of the yogic journey. Iyengar Yoga addresses this journey towards spiritual fulfillment from a perspective which is practical, experiential and intensely personal. Iyengar Yoga begins with ongoing practice of the yoga asanas (postures) with a focus on alignment. In time students learn to penetrate beyond the outer physical layer to the inner kosas (layers) of mind, energy and spirit.