A Summary | Inspired By The Raja (Royal)/Patanjali Ashtanga Eight-Limbed Path

There are many ways to define Yoga by modern standards.

In practice, however, Yoga is a higher, intelligent, lifestyle choice marked by striving to be the best human being that one is capable of being in this lifetime.

The aim of the Yogic lifestyle choice/practice is to purify oneself from simply existing as a dysregulated, conditioned, and/or suffering, animal in the world, to truly living as an enlightened and liberated human being while embodied here on Earth.

And, there are many personalized routes (as many routes as there are individuals with unique personal dysfunctions, issues, and confusions) for achieving this goal.

One of the most clearly laid-out standardized (personalizable) pathways to enlightenment and Liberation is called the Yogic Eightfold (or Eight Limbed) Path as outlined by sage Patanjali in the comprehensive spiritual guide called the Yoga Sutras.

In his/her lifetime, a person can strive to perfect one, or several, of the different areas that are possible in their overall “self-development” as laid out by the Eight-Limbed Path, but it is only when all eight possible areas of development are perfected, according to Raja (or Royal) Yoga, that one truly graduates to reach her/his highest potential for manifested expression/existence and Real unbounded joy.

So, What, According To These Eight Areas On The Eightfold Path, is “Yoga?”

  1. Yoga Is Yamas (Restraints/Self-Control): This is the practice of being a morally/ethically sound individual who has evolved beyond his/her aggressive, fearful, and/or grasping animal nature to be non-violent, truthful, self-controlled, non-stealing, non-greedy/non-attached to things, people, places, or to his or her own ego.
  2. Yoga Is Niyamas (Duties): This is the practice of having habits that include self-purification (which goes beyond cleanliness of the body and the mind to mean not being contaminated by false senses-of-self/ego and remaining connected with the ultimate Truth of the Self beyond form and in your collective oneness), contentment, self-discipline (which includes using the pain of life as purification), Self-study/study of spiritual books, and devotion to a higher purpose/practice.
  3. Yoga Is Asanas (Posture/Developed Through Poses): This is the practice of maintaining good postural health through proper self-care, physical activity, and stretching (so that you can eventually sit comfortably in meditation).
  4. Yoga Is Pranayamas (Breath/Life-Force Energy Control): This is the practice of optimal, proper, and “elevated” breathing, and energy expansion/control, for the maintenance of a healthy body-mind (and awareness) that creates effective flow/use of one’s life-force energy.
  5. Yoga is Pratyahara (Withdrawal Of The Senses): This is the practice of being in full control of all of one’s five senses, desires, and so forth, and learning to withdraw one’s attention from the outside world to focus inward.
  6. Yoga is Dharana (Single-Pointed Focus/Concentration): This is the practice of cultivating concentration (in all senses of the word) which includes developing a focused mind and being.
  7. Yoga is Dhyana (Meditation): This is the practice of immersive contemplation (marked by deep concentration on spiritual [meaning beyond the ego-body-mind] things). Meditation is using your completely concentrated/focused mind to create a clear internal space so that higher states of consciousness (that lead to a clear experience of being) can be experienced.
  8. Yoga is Samadhi (Total Absorption/Total Self-Collectedness/Pure Experience Of Being): This is, through being devoted/committed to connecting with one’s Divine aspects/expressions, and getting the body-mind-ego under control and setting it aside, obtaining a state of complete absorption into one’s True Self beyond temporary form. This is the destination of the Eight-Limbed Path, marked by the beauty of becoming prepared to transcend Earthly states of consciousness to obtain Union with one’s Divine aspect/expression, getting ready to obtain spiritual/inner Liberation from the perpetual cycle of Karma and suffering that most of humanity is stuck in.

The Eight-Limbed Path teaches us that all of these aims are individually possible in one lifetime and within one person.

It is only when one has all of the limbs on the Eight-Limbed Path mastered (and not just one or a few), however, by remaining mindful and practicing consistently each day until these expressions are just naturally a part of who he/she is, that a person will then obtain the ultimate goal of being a fully Self-Realized/Liberated human being who has achieved her/his highest potential (to settle into one’s full divine expression/True Self beyond limited/animal/temporary form) in her/his lifetime.

This Self-Realization/Liberation is the aim (and True definition) of Yoga (a word that means Union).

No matter what your path may look like, the aim of Yoga is always the same: to be fully purified/free of/from all lower attachments, identifications, and expressions so that you can simply be, and rest in, your True, divine, Nature.

Thank you for reading.

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