The era of classical yoga is where we can find some of the foundational teachings we know and love today. In approximately 200AD, author Maharshi Patanjali compiled 195 sutras (aphorisms) of yoga into a more concise form – the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali gathered the teachings, practices, and rituals of yoga in its physical, mental, and spiritual senses to create the “eight limbed path of yoga”.
The 8 Limbs of Yoga are considered the steps and stages that yoga incapsulates on its journey towards obtaining Samadhi, or enlightenment.
8 Limbs of Yoga
Yama – Universal morality
Niyama – Personal observances
Asanas – Body postures
Pranayama – Breathing exercises / control of prana
Pratyahara – Control of the senses
Dharana – Concentration / cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana – Devotion / Meditation
Samadhi – Union with the Divine
Though Patanjali added physical postures and breathing regulation to yoga, they were used only as practices secondary to Dhyana and Samadhi. Patanjali’s sutras do not name any asanas or pranayama.