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The 8 Limbs of Yoga

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In meditation, for example, the mind is acutely focused, and the senses are less readily distracted.

A yoga practitioner can then move toward the sixth limb—"dharana," or intense concentration. In this state, the mind focuses on one single point without experiencing unrelated thoughts.

The seventh limb is "dhyana," or meditation. This meditation builds upon the ability to concentrate fully. Through meditation the yoga practitioner can clear the mind completely.

Only when a yoga practitioner successfully masters the first seven limbs of yoga can she achieve "samadhi," the eighth limb—true bliss and union with the Divine. Sometimes this is called “enlightenment.” Samadhi is the ultimate goal of a yoga practice. In fact, the word yoga translates literally as “union.”

Yoga is a union between body, mind and spirit. It is also, ultimately, a union of self with the Divine and the universe.


Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar


Hillary Easom is a writer and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her website is www.hillaryeasom.com.

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