TRANSFORMATIONAL YOGA - RUIDOSO & SANTA FE
PATANJALI'S 8 LIMBS OF YOGA
THE YOGA SUTRAS
YOGIC OBSERVANCES AND PRACTICES
In Patanjali's work, "The Yoga Sutras" the path to cultivate inner & outer, physical & divine ascendance is called Ashtanga or "The Eight Limbs of Yoga". These steps are guidelines to live a moral life, to act with ethical conduct and self-discipline. They direct attention toward one's health and to cultivate the spiritual aspects of our nature.
1. Yama
The Yamas deal with one's ethical standards and sense of integrity and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are universal practices that provide guidance to our behavior externally and with others.
Ahimsa: nonviolence, do no harm
Satya: restraint from falsehood or distortion of reality in one's expressions &actions
Asteya: nonstealing, not taking what is not earned
Brahmacharya: right use of sexual energy
Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness
2. Niyama
The Niyamas encourage inner practices of self-discipline and spiritual observances.
Saucha: purity
Samtosa: contentment
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to Higher Power
3. Asana
Asanas, or physical postures are those movements, we in the west, associate with the practice of Yoga. Yet the practice of asanas are far greater than just exercise as they develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both necessary for meditation.
4. Pranayama
Breath control consists of techniques to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind and the emotions. The translation of pranayama is "life force extension," expanding the value of its practice to cultivation of your Life Energy.

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5. Pratyahara
Pratyahara means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and objectively observe our cravings and physical cues.
6. Dharana
Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself. In this practice of concentration (which precedes meditation) we learn how to slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object: a specific energetic center in the body, an image of a deity, or the silent repetition of a sound. In the previous stages of posture, breath control, and withdrawal of the senses prepare us for the practice of Dharana where we focus our attention on a single point. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation.
7. Dhyana
Meditation or contemplation, is the uninterrupted flow of concentration.  Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus. At this stage, the mind has been quieted, and in the stillness it produces few or no thoughts at all.
8. Samadhi
The state of ecstasy when the meditator merges with the point of focus and transcends the limited Self realizing a profound connection to the Divine, and interconnectedness with all living things. With this comes a peace that passes mental formations - an experience of bliss and being one with God or the Universe.