Beyond the asanas, yoga can be viewed as a science where we can observe our bodies and minds to create and test hypotheses and develop theories based on our findings. The full system of the science of yoga is the 8 fold path or the eight limbs of yoga, of which the asanas are just one of the limbs.
The eightfold path was codified in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. The Yoga sutras are considered the fundamental text on the practice of yoga. Of the 196 lines of text (Sutras) there are only 3 that discuss the postures of the body:
It wasn’t until the Sages began writing commentary on the Sutras that the postures that we know today began to integrate themselves into the practice of yoga to better enable the practitioners to achieve this perfect seated posture
Overall, the purpose of yoga is to cultivate awareness. These 8 limbs are not commandments or directives, these are suggestions for living a better life through yoga, and only through your own study and practice can you prove the benefits for yourself.
Over the course of the next several weeks we will be looking at each of the limbs and breaking down their meanings in order to help better observe and practice them in our day to day lives.