(i) yama is the ways in which we interact with others. This is five-fold. The five yama are: ahimsa – non-violence satya – truthfulness asteya – non-stealing brahmacharya – conservation of energy aparigraha – absence of greed
(ii) niyama is the ways in which we interact with ourselves. Again, this is five-fold. The five niyama are: saucha – cleanliness santosha – contentment tapas – purification svadhyaya – self-study ishvara pranidana – surrender to the divine
(iii) asana is the physical aspect of the practice of yoga. It is important to maintain health in the body as our body is our vehicle for acting in this world. asana is meant to create a balance between strength (sthira) and flexibility (sukha) in the body. The resulting stability allows us to progress in contemplative practice, and to be more effective in the world. There are different traditions or styles of asana practice.
(iv) pranayama is the practice of regulating and controlling the movement of the breath.
(v) pratyaharais often described as “turning the senses inward” or “withdrawal of the senses”. It is the exercise of the ability to allow the sense organs to sense without getting caught up in the sensation. pratyahara is the ability to allow a craving to exist without the compulsion to satisfy that craving, as well as the ability to allow an aversion to exist without the compulsion to react to that aversion.
(vi) dharana is the ability to concentrate. As we practice pratyahara, we are able to direct our focus to one thing. This is the object of our concentration.
(vii) dhyanais meditation. As we practice dharana, sustaining our focus, we begin to have insight into the object of our focus. We begin to see it in relationship. We see its place in a web greater than itself. We see it in its role in this life (dharma). As we see this greater web or pattern, we begin the contemplation of this web, of all things. We begin meditation – dhyana.
(viii) samadhi is often defined as "revelation," “absorption,” or “perfect contemplation”. samadhi can be understood as a natural extension of dhyana. As we sustain our contemplation of this great web of life, we begin to see that we have a place in this web. We have a role (dharma) that we must fulfill and we experience bliss (ananda) to do that which we are meant to do.