Return to the Beginning

While the physical component of yoga is certainly of importance, it is only one of the eight traditional limbs of yoga practice. The Eight Limbs of Yoga are outlined in the famous yoga textbook known as the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in approximately 200 B.C

The Eight Limbs are a set of of principles and practices, which are cultivated and practiced simultaneously. They are Patanjali’s suggestions for living a better life through yoga.

The eight steps include moral and ethical considerations known as the Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. According to yogis, if these steps are followed diligently, a person can reach high levels of health and mental awareness.

Here are the Eight Limbs of Patanjali:

1.   Yamas: These are five ethical guidelines (restraints, or abstinences.) These include:

  • non-violence (Ahimsa)
  • truthfulness (Satya)
  • non-stealing (Asteya)
  • moderation/control of desires (Brahmacarya)
  • non-attachment (Aparagraha).
  2.   Niyamas: These are five oberservances or behaviors, including:
  • purity (Saucha)
  • contentment (Santosha)
  • self-discipline (Tapas)
  • self-study (Swadhaya)
  • devotion/surrender to your God (Ishavara Pranidhanaa).

3.   Asanas: These are the actual physical exercises that people usually associate with yoga. These powerful poses are designed to give our bodies strength, flexibility and energy. They contribute to the deep sense of relaxation that is necessary in order to meditate and calm the mind and body.

4.   Pranayama: Although we breathe automatically, pranayama is the conscious control of the breath. These energizing breathing exercises produce vitality, overall health and inner calm.

5.   Pratyahara: This is detachment from the ever-present fluctuations of life. Through this practice, we can transcend all the trials and sufferings that life often seems to throw our way and begin to see such challenges in a positive and healing light.

6.   Dharana: This is the practice of powerful and focused concentration.

7.   Dhyana: This is devotional meditation, designed to still the agitations of the mind and open the heart.

8.   Samadhi: This is blissful absorption of the sublime.

By sincerely and patiently following the path of yoga, you can achieve peace of mind, health of body, and the bliss of soul.

Namaste


This section is based on the direct knowledge of teachers and Yogis.
We have tried to summarize the eight traditional limbs of yoga,
which might omit some minor details.