What are the last five steps of the Eightfold Path?

Yoga classes

Last week I explained to you Patanjali’s Eightfold Path, explaining the first 3 steps. In this blog, I take you through the final five steps. If you haven’t read the previous blog yet, please do so first:

https://www.tamarafinocchiaro.com/the-eight-limbs-of-ashtanga-yoga/

Step 4: Pranayama

In addition to asana, Pranayama may also be more familiar, as it stands for breathing exercises, or life energy. The prana is “carried” by the breath. In Yoga, breathing is incredibly important. If you breathe the right way, you feel it immediately. However, if you breathe the wrong way, such as in stressful situations, it can also have a direct negative effect on your body. In my classes, I also focus a lot on breathing. There are several (short!) breathing exercises, which can support you well in exciting and stressful situations. More on this in a future blog.

Step 5: Pratyahara

The fifth step represents: “master your senses.” When you practice Pratyahara, you try to detach from all the triggers that have an emotional charge on them, whether positive or negative. You are training your mind, so to speak, to become more and more stably established. You cannot control your senses by suppressing them, you will then find that the attraction will only grow stronger.

I think everyone knows the feeling that when you try to meditate, your thoughts go everywhere, or you hear a recurring sound in the background. Chances are that this will distract you. The first step is that you feel a slight irritation which you try to ignore, but it backfires. Only when you manage to consciously hear/feel the sound/thought as something that is apparently there, but over which you have no control, will you begin to notice it fading more and more into the background. This is also so important within meditation, most people think they have to suppress the feelings, but the trick is in accepting them and then you notice that your head gets emptier. By the way in practice not always easy, I feel you.

Step 6. Dharana

Dharana is about fixing your attention on “something” and through this you come to complete concentration/focus. This focus point can be, for example, your breathing or a mantra; it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it works for you. For example, it could also be a burning candle. The purpose of this is to calm wandering thoughts by focusing on one thing.

Step 7: Dhyana

If you have managed to stop your thoughts from wandering, then you are fully focused and it is time for meditation. That is actually the point where there are no more thoughts, so you are completely in the here and now.

Step 8: Samadhi

Samadhi is the final step in the eightfold path of Yoga; they also call it the “ultimate goal.” It is something that comes from practicing yoga. Samadhi is like a fusion of all the other seven parts of the eightfold path. You experience the here and now more and feel more connected to everything around you.

I hope I have been able to inform you about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with these two blogs. By the way, I fully realize that this is all beautifully described, but may be perceived as “unachievable” for some. This is how it can feel for me sometimes on a busy and stressful day. But especially in such situations, when my head is so full, I still find that with small steps (for example, a short meditation before bed) I achieve a lot of success and I get up the next day better and with more energy. We keep on learning every day :-).

Thanks so much again for reading along, you guys know how to reach me if there are any questions ­čśŐ.

https://www.tamarafinocchiaro.com/contact/

Love,

Tamara

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