Eight Limbs of Yoga

Considered the father of modern yoga, Patanjali created the Yoga Sutras, a guidebook of sorts to help those on their path towards enlightenment. Sutras, or threads, provide a succinct, nugget of knowledge that provide insight into the core of yoga. This goes beyond the physical practice and includes as a way of being in the world. In the text, Patanjali outlines the Eight Limbs of Yoga, each a stepping-stone towards enlightenment. The eight limbs are:

8 limbs

  1. Yama – moral guide
  2. Niyama- personal observances
  3. Asana – physical postures
  4. Pranayama – breath
  5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of senses
  6. Dharana – concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – bliss state

The first two stones, yama and niyama, are foundational to Patanjali’s eight-limb path. There are five yamas and five niyamas. The yamas can be thought of as “moral discipline”; they help to provide guidance in our actions and relationships with others and the world. The niyamas can be thought of as “observances” and are more inwardly focused on oneself.IMG_5782.JPG

In my teacher training, when we learned the yamas and niyamas we were challenged to choose one to focus on throughout the next week. I really enjoyed this exercise; it helped me to carry yoga off the mat and into my day-to-day life. Over the coming weeks, I am going to return to this exercise in order to dive deeper into the theory behind the practice. For each week, I’ll choose a yama or niyama to focus on, sharing here more detail on the yama or niyama, and how I brought it more into my life for that week.

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