Patanjali Maharishi teaches of the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga (aka Ashtanga…this is not the modern day Ashtanga that we think of when we hear this word.) all of which must be attained consecutively in order to build a solid yogic foundation and eventually attain spiritual liberation. Upon mastering each sadhana (spiritual practice) the sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) attains a *siddhi (a manifested sign of perfecting the practice) The Eight Limbs of Yoga must be practiced on both gross and subtle levels in order to attain complete achievement of them. The eight Limbs are:
1. yamas: The five restraints of thought, word and deed:
-ahimsa (non violence) *siddhi: no animosity/no enemies
-satya (truthfulness) *siddhi: the perfection of speech
-asteya (no stealing) *siddhi: all riches come to the yogi
-bramacharya (celibacy) *siddhi: tremendous energy and virtues spontaneously manifest.
-aparigrapha (non acceptance of gifts) *siddhi:knowledge of past lives and the purpose of this one.
2. niyamas: The five observances:
-saucha (external and internal cleanliness) *siddhi: gains absolute indifference towards the body and purity of the mind.
-santosha (contentment, avoiding complaining) *siddhi: supreme happiness
-tapas (austerities, self control but in a gentle way, not one that harms the body) *siddhi:clairvoyance and other supernatural powers
-swadhyaya (self study and study of the scriptures) *siddhi:vision of God/the divine
-ishwara pradhihana (self surrender, abide in the presence of God at all times) *siddhi: samadi
3. asanas: steady postures used for for meditation and the transcendence of the body. *siddhi:mind transcends the pairs of opposites (pleasure/pain, hot/cold etc.)
4. pranayama: life force/breath control. The mind is said to ride upon the breath, so upon controlling the breath mind-control is achieved as well. Pranayama is an essential preparation for absolute control and concentration.*siddhi:destroys negative karma and breaks the veil of ignorance
5. pratyhara: The withdrawal and internalization of the senses.
6. dharana: concentration. The act of internalizing all of ones senses and bringing them towards the mind.
7. dhyana: meditation (deep dharana)
8. samadi: realization (deep dhyana)
The final three limbs are essentially of the same nature but of varying degrees.
Reaching Samadi allows for the mind to unite with consciousness and to reach full potential allowing it to extract complete understanding of the reality of all things. Siddhis resulting in solidifying the yamas and niyamas can also lead straight to samadi, which is why the foundation is so crucial.