Many years ago, an Indian sage named Patanjali wrote a now famous treatise called The Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refers to eight limbs of yoga, each of which offers guidance on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
According to Patanjali, the root of our pain or discontent is ignorance. It is so easy to become strongly identified with our possessions and our stories but with our dedication to all the limbs of yoga, the outcome is a mind that is calm, content, harmonious, and clear (sattva).
This does not just happen on its own. We need to carve out time in our lives to incorporate these practices.
Let’s quickly overview the eight limbs. The first four are considered the outer limbs. These are how we prepare ourselves for the deeper practices by building strength and flexibility in our bodies and minds. This is the foundation we are going to build on and it needs to be strong, solid, and even. The fifth limb, pratyahara, works as a bridge. This practice links the outer and inner limbs together. It is often an overlooked limb, but very important. The last three are the inner limbs which just naturally flow from one into the other. Beginning with one pointed focus or concentration leads into meditation, which leads into complete absorption with the present moment, with your source—fully realized. Yes, this is the goal!
This has been my experience and relationship with the sutras. I am far, and I mean far, from fully realized with all of this. But I am filled with gratitude to be on this path.