Updated: Feb 8, 2018
You might have heard of the 8 limbs of yoga, if not, you're about to learn all about them and how they can each offer us guidance on how to live a more purposeful and meaningful life. Yoga is about transforming and enhancing every aspect of our life and this extends beyond our class practice. The 8 limbs provide a variety of things to focus on to encourage us to grow and be the best versions of ourselves. They are as follows:
This first 'limb' refers to the moral vows concerned with our ethical standards, disciplines and sense of integrity. It encourages us to focus on our behaviour and how we approach our daily lives. There are 5 yamas, including; non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing, the right use of our energy and not being greedy.
Niyama refers to positive self-discipline or observances, and is directed towards ourselves. It takes our focus inward and there are 5: cleanliness, contentment, burning desire, self-study or self-reflection and surrender.
Asana is all about posture and position, it takes our focus to physical aspects of ourselves and our practice. It encourages us to care for our physical health and wellbeing.
Read more about this fourth limb on our blog post on breathing here. Pranayama is all about breath control and gaining mastery over the respiratory process. It teaches us the connection between the breath, the mind and our emotions. Learn how to use your breathe and your ability to manage your breathing to achieve focus and calm in your day-to-day life.
This fifth limb refers to a withdrawal of our senses which encourages us to focus on what is in front of us, and not on external distractions. It helps us to observe habits or cravings that may be detrimental to our health and which likely interfere with out inner growth. Often referred to as mindfulness, it helps us to live in the moment.
Each stage of the 8 limbs prepares us for the one that follows. Dharana is about focused concentration, now we have withdrawn ourselves from outside distractions we are able to fully focus and develop our powers of concentration. Extended periods of concentration on all previous limbs, breathing, posture and yoga position naturally leads to a meditative state.
In meditation we chose what we will focus on before we start, Dhyana is the practice of absorbing ourselves in our subject of focus. The seventh limb is about the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Achieving this for long periods of time takes regular practice and can be beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing.
Samadhi is all about bliss or enlightenment. Once we have reorganised our external and internal worlds then we can fully achieve a sense of bliss. It is about being feeling at peace with what is going on in our lives and within ourselves. It is at this point that we feel peace and happiness.