The practice of Yoga does not only focus on physical postures to improve the body, but deals with all aspects of human existence. Patanjali (500 B.C.), who is considered the father of Modern Yoga, compiled 196 aphorisms called the Yoga Sutra. In the Yoga Sutra, he described the eight aspects of a Yogic Lifestyle and called it the Eight Limbs of Yoga. These limbs, or stages, constitute a practical guide to personal development that helps the individual achieve harmony of the mind, body and Spirit, and finally leads to enlightenment (Samadhi).
3.1 One-pointedness is steadfastness of the mind.
3.2 Unbroken continuation of that mental ability is meditation.
3.3 That same meditation when there is only consciousness of the object of meditation and not of the mind is realization.
3.4 The three appearing together are self-control.
3.5 By mastery comes wisdom.
3.6 The application of mastery is by stages.
3.7 The three are more efficacious than the restraints.
3.8 Even that is external to the seedless realization.
3.9 The significant aspect is the union of the mind with the moment of absorption, when the outgoing thought disappears and the absorptive experience appears.
3.10 From sublimation of this union comes the peaceful flow of unbroken unitive cognition.
3.11 The contemplative transformation of this is equalmindedness, witnessing the rise and destruction of distraction as well as one-pointedness itself.
3.12 The mind becomes one-pointed when the subsiding and rising thought-waves are exactly similar.
3.13 In this state, it passes beyond the changes of inherent characteristics, properties and the conditional modifications of object or sensory recognition.
3.14 The object is that which preserves the latent characteristic, the rising characteristic or the yet-to-be-named characteristic that establishes one entity as specific.
3.15 The succession of these changes in that entity is the cause of its modification.
3.16 By self-control over these three-fold changes (of property, character and condition), knowledge of the past and the future arises.
3.17 The sound of a word, the idea behind the word, and the object the idea signfies are often taken as being one thing and may be mistaken for one another. By self-control over their distinctions, understanding of all languages of all creatures arises.
3.18 By self-control on the perception of mental impressions, knowledge of previous lives arises.
3.19 By self-control on any mark of a body, the wisdom of the mind activating that body arises.
3.20 By self-control on the form of a body, by suspending perceptibility and separating effulgence therefrom, there arises invisibility and inaudibilty.
3.21 Action is of two kinds, dormant and fruitful. By self-control on such action, one portends the time of death.
3.22 By perfect concentration (samyama) on friendliness, the strength to grant joy arises.
3.23 By perfect concentration (samyama) on any kind of strength, such as that of the elephant, that very strength arises.
3.24 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the primal activator comes knowledge of the hidden, the subtle, and the distant.
3.25 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the Sun comes knowledge of spatial specificities.
3.26 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the Moon comes knowledge of the heavens.
3.27 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the Polestar arises knowledge of orbits.
3.28 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the navel arises knowledge of the constitution of the body.
3.29 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the pit of the throat one subdues hunger and thirst.
3.30 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the tube within the chest one acquires absolute steadiness.
3.31 By perfect concentration (samyama) on the light in the head one envisions perfected beings.
3.32 There is knowledge of everything from intuition.
3.33 Perfect concentration (samyama) on the heart brings knowledge of the mental entity.
3.34 Experience arises due to the inability of discerning the attributes of vitality from the indweller, even though they are indeed distinct from one another. Self-control brings true knowledge of the indweller by itself.
3.35 This spontaneous enlightenment results in intuitional perception of hearing, touching, seeing and smelling.
3.36 To the outward turned mind, the sensory organs are perfections, but are obstacles to realization.
3.37 When the bonds of the mind caused by action have been loosened, one may enter the body of another by knowledge of how the nerve-currents function.
3.38 By self-control of the nerve-currents utilising the lifebreath, one may levitate, walk on water, swamps, thorns, or the like.
3.39 By self-control over the maintenance of breath, one may radiate light.
3.40 By self-control on the relation of the ear to the ether one gains distant hearing.
3.41 By self-control over the relation of the body to the ether, and maintaining at the same time the thought of the lightness of cotton, one is able to pass through space.
3.42 By self-control on the mind when it is separated from the body – the state known as the Great Transcorporeal – all coverings are removed from the Light.
3.43 Mastery over the elements arises when their gross and subtle forms,as well as their essential characteristics, and the inherent attributes and experiences they produce, is examined in self-control.
3.44 Thereby one may become as tiny as an atom as well as having many other abilities, such as perfection of the body, and non-resistence to duty.
3.45 Perfection of the body consists in beauty, grace, strength and adamantine hardness.
3.46 By self-control on the changes that the sense-organs endure when contacting objects, and on the power of the sense of identity, and of the influence of the attributes, and the experience all these produce- one masters the senses.
3.47 From that come swiftness of mind, independence of perception, and mastery over primoridal matter.
3.48 To one who recognizes the distinctive relation between vitality and indweller comes omnipotence and omniscience.
3.49 Even for the destruction of the seed of bondage by desirelessness there comes absolute independence.
3.50 When invited by invisible beings one should be neither flattered nor satisfied, for there is yet a possibility of ignorance rising up.
3.51 By self-control over single moments and their succession there is wisdom born of discrimination.
3.52 From that there is recognition of two similars when that difference cannot be distinguished by class, characteristic or position.
3.53 Intuition, which is the entire discriminative knowledge, relates to all objects at all times, and is without succession.
3.54 Liberation is attained when there is equal purity between vitality and the indweller.
(Pundit Radheshyam Mishra is Founder-Director of "Ujjain Yoga Life Society International".
These Yoga Sutras taken from www.yogalifeusa.org.)