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Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

The 8 Limbs, or petals, form the philosophical foundation for the practice of hatha yoga. Rather than steps or stages, they are actually interdependent aspects of a holistic way of life. They include guidelines for cultivating the body, the mind, and the spirit. Yama (ethical standards) and Niyama (self-discipline) - such as non-violence, honesty, non-stealing, purity and study - lay the groundwork for the practice itself. Asana (posture) and Pranayama (breathing) - bring the mind into harmony with the body. Pratyahara (sense restraint) keeps the energy from dispersing. Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) realize our true nature. And Samadhi (ecstacy) is our final liberation.