The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Everyone seems to think that Patanjali really meant “steps” instead of “limbs.” But I don’t. The 8 limbs of yoga describe the entire outer and inner universe of the yogi. They are all always there. In certain systems, as a strategy of learning, sure you could pretend they are steps. But in general, when Patanjali uses a word, he means exactly what he says, and Sanskrit has words for steps, such as krama.

aṣṭan is eight.

(H1) aṣṭan [p= 116,2] [L=20173] aṣṭaú ([ RV. AV. &c ]) or aṣṭā́ ([ RV. viii , 2 , 41]) or aṣṭá ([ RV. x , 27 , 15 AV. &c ]) pl. eight (other forms are: gen. aṣṭānām Mn. &c ; instr. aṣṭabhís RV. ii , 18 , 4 S3Br. &c ; loc. aṣṭāsú S3Br. &c ) ; ([Lat. octo ; Gk. ὀκτώ. Goth. ahtau ; Mod. Germ. acht ; Eng. eight ; Lith. asztuni ; Slav. osmj.])

Anga is more than “limb.” Aṅga:

  • (H1) aṅgá 1 [p= 7,2] [L=1496] ind. a particle implying attention , assent or desire , and sometimes impatience , it may be rendered , by well
  • indeed , true , please , rather quick
  • kim aṅga , how much rather!
  • áṅga 2 [p= 7,3] [L=1503] n. ( √ am Un2. ), a limb of the body
  • a limb , member
  • the body
  • a subordinate division or department , especially of a science , as the six vedāṅgas, hence the number six
  • N. of the chief sacred texts of the jainas
  • a limb or subdivision of mantra or counsel (said to be five , viz. 1. karmaṇām ārambho*pāyaḥ , means of commencing operations ; 2. puruṣa-dravya-sampad , providing men and materials ; 3. deśa-kāla-vibhāga , distribution of place and time ; 4. vipatti-pratīkāra , counter-action of disaster ; 5. kārya-siddhi , successful accomplishment ; whence mantra is said to be pañcā*ṅga)
  • any subdivision , a supplement
  • (in Gr.) the base of a word , but in the strong cases only Pa1n2. 1-4 , 13 seqq.
  • anything inferior or secondary , anything immaterial or unessential , » aṅga-tā
  • (in rhetoric) an illustration
  • (in the drama) the whole of the subordinate characters
  • an expedient
  • a mental organ , the mind L.
  • (H1B) áṅga 2 [L=1517] m. sg. or pl. N. of Bengal proper or its inhabitants
  • (H1B) áṅga 2 [L=1518] m. (sg.) , N. of a king of aṅga
  • (H1B) áṅga 2 [L=1519] mfn. having members or divisions L.
  • (H1B) áṅga 2 [L=1520] m. contiguous L.

So ashtanga is 8-Limbs and they are all present simultaneously, in the inner world of meditation.

The Inner Ritual

In meditation, all the angas are active and poised, continually flushed with prana, and alternately resting and being exercised. Meditation is the inner ritual, inner asana flow, antaramritaplavana.

Or maybe abhyantara samavāya - the inner, intimate union.

A few words related to Inner:

antá--sāra [p= 43,2] [L=8037]
having internal essence
antá--sāra [L=8038]
internal treasure , inner store or contents.
(H3) mfn.
(H3B) m.

abhy-antara [p= 75,3] [L=13209]
(ā)n. interior , being inside of , included in (loc. ; gen. or in comp. [cf. gaā*bhyantara]) MBh. ii , 2282 , &c

loc.) R. Megh.

abhy-antara [L=13212]
inner part , interior , inside , middle S3a1k. &c
abhy-antara [L=13213]
(generally loc. ; ifc.) interval , space of time Mr2icch. Pan5cat. Hit.
abhy-antara [p= 1315,2] [L=312660]
"on intimate terms", a lover, Divya7v.
(H1) mf
[L=13210]initiated in , conversant with (
[L=13211]next , nearly related , intimate
(H1B) n.
(H1B) n.
(H2) m.

ābhyantara [p= 146,1] [L=25379]
(fr. abhy-antara) , being inside , interior , inner MBh. Sus3r.
(H1) mfn.

antar-bhūta [p= 44,2] [L=8306]
being within , internal , inner.
antar--bhūta [p= 1313,1] [L=308271.9]
(ifc.) being or contained in anything, ib.
(H2) mfn.
(H3) mfn.

sam-avā* ya [p= 1157,3] [L=233884]
coming or meeting together , contact , concourse , congress , assemblage , collection , crowd , aggregate (ena or āt , " in combination " ; °ya-k , " to meet , combine , flock together ") Gr2S. Gaut. Mn. &c

MBh. VarBr2S.

S3rS. Gaut. Sarvad.
1158,1] [L=233887]
phil.) perpetual co-inherence , inner or intimate relation , constant and intimate union , inseparable concomitance (= nitya-sambandha , the sixth padā*rtha or category of the vaiśeikas , expressing relation which exists between a substance and its qualities , between a whole and its parts [e.g. between cloth and the yarn composing it] , between a genus and its individuals &c ) Kap. Jaim. IW. 66 ; 69

e , with gen. , " during ") MBh. i , 556
(H2) m.
[L=233885]conjunction (of heavenly bodies)
[p= (in
[L=233888]course , duration (

Words related to Flow:

a-mta--plavana [p= 1315,3] [L=313190.5]
a stream or flow of n°ectar, Ma1lati1m.
(H3) n.

srutí [L=257665]
a stream , flow or effusion of (comp.) Ka1v. VarBr2S. BhP.

&c ) Ragh. Kum.

RV. Br. S3a1n3khS3r.

vedi S3a1n3khS3r.
(H2) f.
[L=257666]fall of (snow
[L=257667]a course , road , path
[L=257668]a line drawn round the