Patanjali’s 8 Informative Elements of Yoga

elements of yoga

Yoga is certainly not a mechanical interaction yet an insightful cycle. The fundamental motivation behind yoga is to furnish a sound body with a stress-free and sound psyche.

According to the great sage Patanjali, a definitive point of yoga is soul identification and awakening of the subconscious mind which comes through self-acknowledgment and self-sanitization.

He was the one who created the foundation of Astanga yoga by writing a book describing 8 different elements of yoga that will help you become more self-aware and physically balanced.

Introduction to Elements of Yoga

Yoga has its underlying foundations around 5000 years BC as portrayed in Indian Vedic Philosophy and Tantras.

Patanjali, an extraordinary sage made this way into a Darshan (Philosophy) in his Book “Patanjali Yoga Sutra”. In which he has defined Yoga as an Eight Limbs or Eight-Fold way.

In Sanskrit “Ashta + Anga” is Ashtanga. “Ashta” signifies Eight and “Anga” is the body part so it implies Eight Limbs.

elements of yoga

Ashtanga yoga depends on the Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali. Yoga Sutras depicts in eight-limbed ways an enlightened purposeful life. As per phrasing in ancient Hindu Vedas and yoga books, the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga are:

  1. Yama (perspectives toward our current circumstance)
  2. Niyama (mentalities toward ourselves)
  3. Asana (physical stances or posture)
  4. Pranayama (limitation or expansion of the breath)
  5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the faculties)
  6. Dharana (focus)
  7. Dhyana (contemplation and meditation) and 
  8. Samadhi (reconciliation and integration)

1. The Yamas 

Yamas is a moral norm or standard of conduct, depicting how we should carry on with our lives. It includes: 

  • Ahimsa (peacefulness “do no damage”)
  • Satya (honesty)
  • Asteya (non-taking)
  • Aparigraha (non-greed)
  • Brahmacharya (chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint)

elements of yoga

Patanjali states in his book, how and why every one of the above self-restrictions helps in a person’s self-awareness. For instance, in section II.35 of his book, Patanjali states that the excellence of peacefulness and non-injury to other people (Ahimsa) prompts the deserting of hostility.

An expression that drives the yogi to the flawlessness of internal and external friendship with everybody and everything present around him.

2. The Niyamas 

Niyamas is a disposition that we receive toward ourselves in regards to the self-control. It is a list of “Rules” for great, perfect, and sound living. They are: 

  • Saucha (tidiness)
  • Samtosha (unobtrusiveness, happiness)
  • Tapas (heat/purging the body… keeping it fit/sound)
  • Svadhyaya (self-request)
  • Isvara Pranidhana (give up to God)

elements of yoga

Likewise, with the Yamas, Patanjali also clarifies how and why every one of the Niyamas helps in self-improvement.

For instance, in refrain II.42, Patanjali states that the prudence of happiness and acknowledgment of others as they are (Santosha) prompts the state where internal wellsprings of bliss matter most, and the desire for external sources of pleasure ceases.

3. The Asanas 

Asana is the actual stance we practice in yoga. The body is believed to be a sanctuary of the soul, and in that capacity, we should deal with it as a fundamental phase of our development profoundly.

As we build up a propensity for the restrained act of the Asanas (stances), we detoxify and decontaminate, and increment our capacity to think and grow. 

According to Patanjali, the reflection stance ought to be consistent and comfortable. Asana is a stance that one can hold for a while, remaining loose, consistent, balanced, and unmoving. 

elements of yoga

The Yoga Sutra doesn’t list any particular asana. Āraṇya deciphers refrain verse II.47 of Yoga sutra as, “Asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort and with conscious meditation”.

This blend and daily practice stop the shuddering of the body. Any stance that causes suffering or anxiety is certainly not yogic. Writings that talk about Patanjali’s sutra express that the right stance for sitting while performing yoga is to keep the chest, neck, and head erect.

4 The Pranayama 

Pranayama or breath control or “life power expansion”. When various breathing activities are polished to move the energy (prana) inside us and revive the body then our body starts to function properly.

After the ideal Asana stance has been accomplished, sections II.49 through II.51 suggest prāṇāyāma, the act of intentionally managing the breath:

  • Inward breath
  • Full interruption or full pause
  • Exhalation
  • Unfilled respite or empty pause
elements of yoga

This is done severally, for example, by breathing in and afterward suspending exhalation for a period, breathing out and afterward suspending inward breath for a period, by easing back the inward breath and exhalation, or by intentionally changing the circumstance and length of the breath (profound, short, relaxing). Every method of breathing will change our mental and physical state.

Performing pranayama during asana can help you find balance in your practice. Plus, correct breathing pattern during yoga can help in weight loss.

Just like other elements of yoga, the benefit of Pranayama is also dependent upon us. If we think it is ‘controlling us’ then it might not help us. But, if we feel it is ‘liberating’ then we could be able to push ourselves away from the ongoing mental trauma.

5. The Pratyahara 

Pratyahara is the “withdrawal of the senses”, noticing longings and propensities, and subsequently liberating ourselves from negative characteristics. The withdrawal works with the internal journey to discover the self.

Pratyahara engages one to quit being constrained by the outer world, get one’s thoughtfulness regarding look for self-information, and experience the opportunity inborn in one’s internal world. 

Pratyahara isn’t deliberately ignoring the tangible world, it’s intentionally shutting one’s psyche cycles from the tangible world. 

elements of yoga

Rather than really losing the capacity to hear and smell, or to see or to feel, the act of pratyahara changes our perspective. Thus, we become so assimilated in the thing we’re focussing on, that the things outside of ourselves at this point don’t trouble us.

Experienced professionals might have the option to interpret pratyahara into regular daily existence – being so focused and present to the current second, that things like sensations and sounds do not divert the psyche.

6. The Dharana 

Dharana is the centralization of the brain with a coordinated mental stream of energy and mental center, focusing on a single thing or a sound. 

The base of the word is dhṛ (धृ), signifying “to hold, look after, and keep”. 

elements of yoga

Dharana is at six out of the eight elements of yoga. It’s holding one’s brain onto a specific inward state, place, or subject in total agreement. The psyche is fixed on a mantra, or one’s breath/navel/tip of tongue/any spot, or a concept one needs to notice, or an idea/thought to one.

Fixing the brain implies a one-pointed center, without floating of the psyche, and without hopping starting with one subject then onto the next. This when keeps on preceding forward then from Dharana, you enter into one of the next elements of yoga- Dhyana.

7. The Dhyana 

Dhyana reflection or consideration. A continuous progression of fixation with a peaceful or “still” mind. Dhyana is different from Dharana, in which the meditator turns out to be effectively drawn to one fixed center in his brain with its whole interest.

Patanjali characterizes thought (Dhyana) as the psyche cycle, where the brain is fixed on something, and afterward, there is “a course of uniform adjustment of information”. 

elements of yoga

Dhyana is thinking about that idea/thought in the entirety of its perspectives, structures, and outcomes. Dhyana is a continuous line of reasoning, current insight, the progression of mindfulness.

Dhyana is the non-critical, non-arrogant perception, where we are supposed to focus on that one center object without being too opinionated. Being humans our judgmental view is always active. Hence, this is the most difficult elements of yoga to master.

8. The Samadhi 

Superconsciousness or a condition of consistent happiness and immense pleasure. A “harmony that passes all agreement”. Samadhi implies illumination, assembling, joining, consolidating with, association, harmonious whole, trance. 

Samadhi is unity with the subject of meditation. There is no qualification, during this eighth element of yoga, between the entertainer of contemplation, the demonstration of reflection, and the subject of reflection. 

Samadhi is that otherworldly state when one’s brain is so caught up in whatever it is mulling over, that the psyche loses the feeling of its personality. 

The mastermind, the perspective, and the idea meld with the subject of thought. There is just unity, which is called samadhi. Now, it’s the point when you become united to the ultimate truth of life. This is the state of mind when you become a true yogi in terms of Patanjali’s eight elements of yoga.

elements of yoga infographics
Elements of Yoga Infographics

The Bottom Line 

This degree of higher cognizance (mindfulness) is polished all through a yoga class, in asanas, savasana (unwinding), pranayama (breathwork), yoga Nidra, and meditation…but generally significant of all… taking our yoga off the mats and living it consistently, every single day. It is an internal excursion, your instructor just aids you in your excursion, since you are solely responsible to take yourself there. 

The main goal of these elements of yoga is to manage this internal excursion, the “Journey to the Center of Calm”, with adoring consideration, authenticity, information, enthusiasm, and commitment. 

Happy Yoga..!!


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Nidhi Thakur

Nidhi Thakur

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