8 limbs of yoga {The Basics}

Jul 18, 2016 | Spiritual, Yoga, Yoga & Meditation

Namaste Readers,

For many in the united states, you mention the word yoga and only one thought comes across their minds….poses and lots of them. However yoga is not just a work out for the body, but a way of life in general. Yoga is an eightfold path towards enlightenment, which is also called ashtanga meaning 8 limbs. Each of these limbs work in harmony and can be thought of as steps or guidelines on how to live the most meaningful life possible while opening our eyes in understanding how we are all connected to each other and nature.

Today we are just going to go over the basics of each limb and how they can help you live a more purposeful life. This is only the preface of what Yoga really is and I hope that after reading today’s post, that you are inspired to go out and learn more about this amazing path, internally & externally.
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Hi I'm Ashleigh & I am on a mission to live a more peaceful harmonic lifestyle, whether it be through attachment parenting, plant based eating, up cycling or meditation. Come join me & start your path towards enlightenment & better living!

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The Basics of The 8 Limbs of Yoga


1. Yama

  • Yama is the first limb and focuses on how we participate in the environment around us. Yama wants you to focus on your behavior towards all sentient beings. There are 5 yamas, which if you practice another religion I am sure you have also heard of these:
    • Ahimsa: nonviolence. Always be kind and compassionate towards all living things, bugs and animals included.
    • Satya: truthfulness. Always be truthful even when it comes with consequence.
    • Asteya: non thievery. We all know stealing is bad, but this goes even deeper such as emotions, stealing someone else’s peace or even stealing from yourself.
    • Brahmacharya: fidelity. This not only includes celibacy when not married, but also how we are directing our energy. Do not direct them towards desires.
    • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness. Obviously we all have seen a hoarder at some point in our lives, and I am sure we all have gone through a hoarding stage as well. Do one cling onto possession for they will not give your life purpose.

2. Niyama

  • Niyama is the second limb and focuses on self-discipline and our own spiritual growth and self-care. Examples of these can be saying prayer before meals, meditation practices, attending a temple or church. There are also 5 Niyamas:
    • Saucha: cleanliness. Making sure to keep your mind pure as well as your body.
    • Samtosa: contentment. Making sure to find happiness in all that you have right now at this moment.
    • Tapas: discipline. Tapas also means heat and in this case we want to burn away the impurities from our mind, bodies, & emotions.
    • Svadhyaya: self study. Studying scriptures of your faith, studying your own self, emotions, habits, etc.
    • Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God. Surrendering to your divine force and basking in it’s energy.

3. Asana

  • Asanas is the third limb and is the most popular in the Western Culture. Asanas are poses or postures that help to connect mind, body (breath included), & soul. Your body is a temple and needs to be cared for. Training your body to be still, strengthen itself, and find balance are all apart of the asanas. We learn to accept ourselves a bit more and learn discipline, concentration and stillness.

4. Pranayama

  • Pranayama is the fourth limb and is the control of the breath. Prana or energy is everything that we are and being able to balance and control that is a great practice to have. Pranayama is often used with Asanas as a way to control mind, body and breath. Pranayama is also believed to rejuvenate the body and increase your life span.

5. Pratyahara

  • Pratyahara is the fifth limb and is about withdrawing from the world around us and transcending inside yourself. This isn’t about shutting out everyone and everything, but more so focusing more inward to give yourself a more clear mind without sensory stimulation. Drawing awareness to ourselves lets us take a look at ourselves; our desires, habits, health, and much more and focusing on ways to balance them out.

6. Dharana

  • Dharana is the sixth limb and is about focus of the mind. Being able to still your wandering mind by training it to focus on one thing without distractions. Slow down and concentrate on one single thought and slowly work up to extending the time we are able to do that….believe me it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

7. Dhyana

  • Dhyana is the seventh limb and is meditation. You must practice Dharana many times before being able to fully experience Dhyana. The main difference between these two limbs is that Dhyana is meditation without a single distraction. Being fully aware but without focus or thought. True stillness of the mind.

8. Samadhi

  • Welcome to Samadhi, the eighth and final limb of yoga. When I first learned about these limbs, the capricorn in me wanted to get straight to this beauty…however this stage takes much practice, discipline and a true understanding of the previous 7 limbs. What is so special about this Samadhi? Well this is what connects all of yoga together and can be describes as a state of ecstasy. All senses are immersed in the present moment and is truly connected to the universe and the divine. Understanding this truth is peace or enlightenment.

Be sure to snap a photo & hashtag #omlivin of your yogi adventures! I would love to see your Spiritual side!

Like I mentioned earlier this was just the basics, but I do intend to write a post about each and every one of these stages to help provide you further details. But like this practice mentions, it is also your duty to go out and explore all that you can! I highly recommend trying Yoga to help you live a better life, for yourself and those around you.

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Question of the Day:

Do you live your life similar to these principles, or could you use a little bit more Yogi self discipline?

Be sure to come back on our next Meditation Monday for more posts related to yoga, meditation & the spiritual path towards happiness. Or you could always subscribe to get get each post in your inbox! If you have any comments or questions on what we discussed today, please feel free to comment and share your knowledge with the community on my social media pages, | Instagram | Twitter | Google+ Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post & in return know that you are on a path towards enlightenment ❤ ॐ❤!

Written By: Ashleigh Nicole

Written By: Ashleigh Nicole

Ashleigh is a mother & wife who enjoys blogging in hopes to change this world for the better. Wanting to heal others inside-out as well as healing our planet Earth. Her passions include balancing the mind through meditation, knowledge & conscious parenting, the body through plant based eating, alternative medicine, & yoga, and the soul through up cycling, gardening, & sustainability. Keep your life balanced & subscribe to her weekly emails, like OmLivin’ on FB or check her out on Google+ for more.

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