Eight Limbs of Yoga

This is a path of uniting the individual and the universal. These practices work in harmony to help us reach the ultimate goal of enlightenment.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are considered to be the foundational text of Classical Yoga. There are 196 sutras, or "threads," split into four chapters, or "padas." The organization into eight limbs is reminiscent of Buddha's noble eightfold path. Each limbs builds upon the next and supports the whole. This guide leads towards a merging of the individual with the universal.

Implementing the Eight Limbs of Yoga
Bring these concepts into your yoga practice and everyday life.

While learning about Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is intersting, there is one more step to take: implement it! These principles are meant to be practiced to improve ourselves and the life around us. This article offers some great ideas about how to incorporate this information into our lives and make it our reality.

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1. Yamas

The Yamas are social and moral principles. There are five yamas that aim to help us better interact with the world around us. The first yama is Ahimsa: non-harming both to ourselves and to others. The second yama is Satya: truthfulness with sincerity and integrity. The third yama is Asteya: non-stealing by only taking what is freely given. The fourth yama is Brahmacharya: chastity and self-restraint in practicing ethical conduct. The fifth and final yama is Aparigraha: non-covetness, greedlessness in not taking more than we need.

2. Niyamas

The five Niyamas are personal disciplines that affect our attitudes towards ourselves. The first niyama is Saucha: purity and cleanliness both inside and out. The second niyama is Santosha: contentment with ourselves and the way things are. The third niyama is Tapas: heat or desire to reach a union with God or the universe. The fourth niyama is Svadhyaya: study of the self to continuously learn more about who we are. The fifth and final niyama is Ishvara Pranidhana: devotion to God or other personal deity.

3. Asana

Asana means "posture " or "seat." This limb focuses on the physical body. This is where the typical yoga practice of flowing through various poses comes into play. This practice brings overall health, strength to our muscles and balance to our bodies.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama is the practice of breath control. Prana means "life force," refering to the energy in us and everything around us. There are various breathing techniques that focus on inhalations, exhalations and the space in between. Pranayama practice balances our mind and connects the mind to the body and soul.

5. Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the withdrawl of the senses. It is easy to get distracted and caught up in all the activity happening around us. This practice teaches us to block out external influences in order to focus on our own consciousness.

6. Dharna

Dharna works on concentration. Focus and concentration help to quiet the mind. With practice, we aim to reach ekagrata or one-pointedness of the mind.

7. Dyhana

Dyhana is the practice of meditation or contemplation. Once we are able to block out distractions and concentrate, we can go one step further into meditation. This practice brings us face to face with our truest and deepest selves. It allows for inner stillness and quiet.

8. Samadhi

Samadhi is the achievement of ecstasy or enlightenment. This is the ultimate goal for yogis. It is a state of pure bliss and eternal peace. This is the union of everything that is.

Source: Sacred Art Yoga 2019