In Sanskrit, the word yoga means to yoke, to join, to harness. It also means union or communion and has been described as the "yoking of all the powers of body, mind, and soul," and as the "disciplining of the intellect, the mind, and the emotions." Yoga allows for poise of the soul and this enables us to look at life is in all its aspects evenly. In short it is about making balance and creating equanimity so as to live in peace, good health and harmony with the greater whole. This art of living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago and the foundations of yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD. This sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and provides an eight-step blueprint for controlling its restlessness so as to enjoying lasting peace.
While ashta means eight and anga means limb, we can say that these are steps as much as limbs. They are limbs in the sense that they all belong to the same body of teachings and each is essential, but they are steps in the sense that there is logical order to them and to how they must be approached.
In bref the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as fallows:
1. Yama : Universal morality or ethical observations
2. Niyama : Personal observations
3. Asanas : Body postures
4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and Control of prana
5. Prayahara : Control of the senses
6. Dharana : Consentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana : Meditation
8. Samadhi : Union With the Divine or Absorption into yhe Universal
The first two limbs yamas and niyamas are the fundamental ethical precepts, universal morality and personal observances.
Asana and pranayama is the practice of physical postures and breath.