This path was codified by the ancient sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras as an eight-step training system for body and mind, which hecalled Ashtanga Yoga (in Sanskrit, ashta is “eight” and anga “division”or “limb”).The steps purify body and mind until enlightenment occurs.
i. YAMA Sets out the actions from which yogis should restrain. It advocates living a life of non-violence and truthfulness, sublimating sexual energy, not stealing, and not accepting gifts or bribes.
ii. NIYAMA Details the actions a yogi should do. It advocates external and internal cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, study of spiritual literature, and devotion to God. Together, the yamas and niyamas form a highly moral code of ethical conduct, Following them makes the mind more positive and purifies it, ready for deep meditation.
iii. ASANA The third step relates to posture asanas .
iv. PRANAYAMA The fourth step concerns control of prana or life energy. This is achieved by doing deep-breathing exercises, which include practicing breath retention.
v. PRATYAHARA Steps 3 and 4 project the practitioner into a world of intense inner perception. Step 5 teaches how to stabilize this withdrawal of the senses as a preparation to concentration.
vi. DHARANA In this step, concentration, the mind is fixed on an imaginary or real object to the exclusion of other thoughts. This is the key practice in all yoga meditation techniques.
vii. DHYANA Step 6 leads to step 7, meditation. This uninterrupted flow of thought waves has been compared to oil flowing in an unbroken, stream from one container to another.
viii. SAMADHI The final step happens effortlessly as, during meditation, the mind is absorbed into Absolute Consciousness, beyond all the usual states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.