The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Yoga has been around since the beginning of time. The poses we do now in yoga, are the everyday poses humans used to use in everyday life. It is so much bigger than simple trying to get more flexible and to have a better looking body. A yoga class is a spiritual experience in which you gain acceptance of yourself, push your limits, and can come to brilliant realizations that were set deep inside yourself. Yoga is known as a practical science, or “prayoga sastra”. It is about techniques to evolve the human consciousness. Maharishi Patanjali, known as the father of yoga, compiled several Indian sutras, or aphorisms, in 400 BC that we now know as Patanjali Yoga Sutras. This is where we find the eight limbs of yoga. These are the steps and processes to achieve the highest state of Samadhi, or the state of super consciousness.

The eight limbs of yoga, also known as Ashtanga Yoga, are Yamas, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

  1. Yama

The steps start with Yama, which deals with human evolution. It shows advice on harmonizing the external and internal life while living in society. Basically, it looks to create a balanced life of a harmonious and peaceful society. There are five Yamas…

Ahimsa- nonviolence

Satya- truthfulness

Asteya- non-stealing

Brahmacharya- a balanced sexual life

Aparigraha- non-possessiveness


  1. Niyama

Niyama consists of virtuous habits, behaviors, and observances. There are five Niyamas…

Sauca- purity, clearness of mind

Santosa- contentment

Tapas- self-discipline, perseverance

Svadhyaya- self-reflection

Īśvarapraṇidhāna- total acceptance of life


  1. Asana

Asana are postures. It is known as “Sthiram Sukham Asanam” which means a steady and comfortable posture. There are no specific postures stated, but it consists of those that are motionless and that one can hold with comfort for a long period of a calm, meditative mind.


  1. Pranayama

Pranayama is the regulation of breath. The breath and the mind are closely related. It is believed that if you can control the breath you can control the mind and bring it calmness and ease.


  1. Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the withdrawal of senses from external objects, preparing the mind for meditation. The mind stays aware of inner processes and dives deeper into its inner reality.


  1. Dharana

Dharana is centered on concentration. Yoga Sutras use the word “Samapatti” or absorption and describes that the mind is absorbed by a point or idea without distraction for a period of time.


  1. Dhyana

Dhyana is a prolonged period of Dharana, also known as meditation. It is the non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of one object. It is different from Dharana because it is continuous thought about an object, without other thoughts of a different kind about the same object. For example, Dharana is focusing on the morning sun and being aware of it’s brilliance, color, and orbit. In Dhyana the sun’s orbit alone would be contemplated, without being interrupted by its color or brilliance or any other idea.


  1. Samadhi

The last stage of Yoga is Samadhi or super conscious awareness. On the path of Dhyana, one comes to the point where they lose self-consciousness or the sense of “I”. In this process the meditator, the process of meditation, and the object of meditation become one. There are many stages of Samadhi which will lead to different experiences. The highest stage of illumination is “Dharma Megha Samadhi” which liberates the meditator from all limitations of body and mind.

Yoga Classes are held Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00pm.

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