The Eight Limbs of Yoga

by Delight Yoga

Within the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is the section called Astanga yoga (the eight limbs of Yoga). On the one hand, they are considered to be in a linear order, but on the other hand, they keep recurring at different levels in a kind of spiralling effect that supports and enhances practice. There are eight limbs of Yoga. These are:

1. Yama

The attitudes towards our environment.
Yama comprises:
1. ahimsa (non-violence), 
2. satya  (truthfulness), 
3. asteya (honesty),
4. brahmacharya (sensual abstinence),
5. aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

 

2. Niyama

The attitudes towards ourselves.
Niyama comprises: 
1. saucha (cleanliness), 
2. santosha  (contentment),
3. tapah (austerity), 
4. svadhyaya (self study), 
5. ishvara pranidhanani (devotion)

 

3. Asana

The practise of body exercises or physical postures.

 

4. Pranayama

The practise of breathing exercises or breath control.

 

5. Pratyahara 

The restraint or withdrawal of our senses.

 

6. Dharana

Concentration or the ability to direct our minds.

 

7. Dhyana

Meditation or the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand.

 

8. Samadhi

 Ecstasy, self-realization or complete integration with the object to be understood.  

 

Understanding and researching these eight limbs is the ground for the Yoga practitioner and teacher. They require constant practice.

 

You can download the full Yoga Sutras translated by Chip Hartranff here.