In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path of yoga is called ashtanga, which translates to “eight limbs.” Within this structure, guidelines are offered which include, and extend beyond the physical practice. The first four limbs of the eightfold path focus on fine tuning our personalities, actions and physical bodies to develop energetic awareness. The final four limbs focus on the senses and achieving deep meditative and fulfilled states of being.
What are the eight limbs of yoga?
1) Yama (moral conduct)
The first limb of yoga is yama. There are five yamas, which focus on the internal landscape of the yogi. They are essentially rules that outline behaviors that one should partake or abstain from.
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Asteya (integrity or non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (moderation)
- Aparigraha (good-will and service towards others)
2) Niyama (spiritual observances)
The second limb niyama is a set of spiritual qualities and conducts to be practiced and developed in order to align with our highest version of self. To live in a way that respects these moral guidelines, we can transform our internal world into a more peaceful place, with a greater capacity to give and receive love for ourselves and those around us.
- Saucha (purity)
- Santosha (contentment)
- Tapas (transformation)
- Svadhyaya (self-study)
- Ishvara Pranidhana (surrendering to a higher source)
3) Asana (physical postures)
The third limb of yoga, asana, is what comes to mind first and for most. Asanas are the physical postures that are practiced. It’s in the practice of these yoga poses, that the practitioner gains a palpable awareness of energetic locks and can target areas of stored physical and emotional tension. Through the practice of asana, one can develop discipline and a sense of presence in their…