8 Limbs of Yoga: Understand & Practice The Tree of Life
Mastering 8 limbs of yoga

8 limbs of yoga from Patanjali’s yoga sutra help us live in a flow of right action, constantly check in, and seek alignment with spiritual consciousness and awareness. Also called the basic blueprint of yoga, it is designed to help practitioners ease suffering and live more disciplined and purposeful lives.  

Most people who are new to the world of yoga aren’t aware of the 8 limbs of a yoga tree. That’s why Ekattva decided to shed light on the 8 limbs of yoga and talk about all its critical aspects. 

Implementing & incorporating the 8 yoga limbs into your everyday life will help figure out what a yogic lifestyle is all about and learn how to live the philosophy of yoga. 

Here are details behind each of the 8 limbs of yoga and how to practice them in your daily life: 

8 limbs of yoga 

#1 Yama

The first limb of the 8 limbs of the yoga tree is Yama: the moral, ethical, and spiritual discipline to attain balance, health, and well-being, leading to spiritual development. Yama is broken into 5 ethical guidelines:  

  • Ahimsa: Also called non-violence, it can be interpreted as non-harm towards yourself, animals, plants, neighbors, and all life on our planet. It also includes wishing no harm to other living beings including yourself and not spreading mental or emotional abuse.
  • Satya: Hindi word for Truthfulness, it means to live an authentic life, speak your truth without apologies (as long as it is done while practicing Ahimsa), and being honest towards yourself. 
  • Asteya: This yogic guideline asks you not to steal anything physically and mentally including others’ ideas and creations. This also applies to not stealing from yourself and honoring your needs. 
  • Aparigraha:  This Yama is a reminder not to be preoccupied with objects and to keep life simple. In simple words, there is no need to be greedy.  
  • Brahmacharya: This Yama asks you to pursue yoga with a commitment on a daily basis. 
limbs of yoga

Implementing and incorporating Yama into life 

Following are the ways to implement & incorporate Yama into your life: 

  • Speaking kindly to others. Be kind even to strangers. 
  • Develop thoughts on your own. Avoid stealing ideas and belongings of others. 
  • Understand your attachment to your possessions. Try to share them with others.  
  • Practice yoga regularly to moderate and balance internal emotions and energies.

By following the above methods, you will successfully be able to incorporate the first limb out of 8 limbs of a yoga tree in your life.  

#2 Niyama 

The second limb, Niyama, is all about self-discipline. It deals with implementing a set of rules, activities, and habits for healthy living, spiritual enlightenment, and a liberated state of existence. Niyamas are the five codes to observe in your personal behavior. Following are the guidelines for personal disciplines: 

  • Shaucha: The first Niyama, Shaucha means purification. It includes several techniques for cleansing the body as well as the mind, and it has been called the aim of the entire yoga system. 
  • Santosha: Contentment, happiness, and joy. It comes from an experience of acceptance of life, of ourselves, and whatever life has brought us. When we are content, we are happy. It asks you to have an attitude of gratitude and peace 
  • Tapas: Tapas accompanies any discipline that is willingly accepted to bring about a change of some kind, be it improved health, a new habit, better concentration, or a different direction in life. It focuses on the energy, creates fervor, and increases strength and confidence. 
  • Svadhyaya: Self-study. It deals with recollecting (to remember, to contemplate, to meditate on) the self. It is the effort to know yourself that could shine as the innermost core of your being. 
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Ishvara refers to all-pervading consciousness and Pranidhana means to surrender. Together, these words could be translated as trustful surrender to God. Being the last and important Niyama, it is the most difficult for an individual to embrace. 

Implementing and incorporating Niyama into life 

Here are the guidelines to incorporate & implement Niyama, the second limb out of 8 limbs of a yoga tree: 

  • Select wisely from the many choices of food, emotions, and thoughts waiting to come into your body and mind.
  • Let go of the past. Free your mind of expectations to see life in a broader context and become able to ride its ups and downs with equanimity. 
  • Practice Yamas and Niyamas, the asanas, and breath awareness to recognize when you are acting with your goals and when you are unconsciously acting to counter them. 
  • Meditate to identify the thoughts and desires that distract your concentration. Instead, rest your attention in the center of your being.  

Following these guidelines, you will be able to implement the second limb of 8 limbs of yoga in your life. 

5 yoga asanas to beat anxiety and stress caused due to coronavirus lockdown

#3 Asana 

The third and best-known limb of yoga is Asana or physical practice. People often mistake it for the yoga itself, but in reality, it is just a piece of a larger yogic puzzle. Asanas are the movements and pose that we perform during yoga class. Their purpose is to prepare your mind for meditation. 

Patanjali, the founder of 8 limbs of yoga, believed that an individual’s body must be strong and without strain to perform proper meditation. We recommend you to perform asana for at least 15-30 minutes a day to deepen your connection. You could also perform a few yoga stretches at your desk during the lunch break! 

Benefits of performing Asana in daily routine: 

  • Helps your mind, body, and spirit to connect the physical, mental, and emotional bodies in order to create stability. 
  • Creates mental and physical strength, flexibility, and balance. 
  • Stimulates various body systems for improved physical health and longevity.  

Breathwork mastery has huge health and wellness benefits. Check out this student review for insights!

By performing Asanas, you will advance through the 8-limbed yoga path and move into and hold long-seated meditation poses with more ease. 

#4 Pranayama 

Pranayama is the fourth limb of the 8-fold path of yoga. It is also known as breath, as well as the method using which we can control and direct the energy of the breath. In other words, taking deep focused, and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations are a practice of pranayama, the fourth limb of yoga. 

Pranayama is vital to living in a yogic lifestyle as it encourages peacefulness, relaxation, and aids in meditation.  When your body is strong, flexible, and mobile you will be able to breathe with more ease. 

Benefits of performing pranayama 

There are several benefits of performing pranayama: 

  • Helps to increase lung capacity. 
  • Balances your nervous system. 
  • Can help you lower your blood pressure. 
  • Prepares your mind for meditation. 
  • Helps you balance chakras by moving vital-life force energy up and down the spinal column. 

Incorporating and implementing the fourth limb of the 8 yoga limbs (paths) into our daily life is pretty easy. One can practice pranayama while standing in line at the grocery store. It involves breathing in slowly and deeply for 6 counts, holding for 2-3 counts, and slowly exhaling for 8 counts. 

Pranayama can also be practiced by joining breathing and pranayama classes at a Yoga Alliance certified school like Ekattva Yogashala. 

#5 Pratyahara 

After working through the first four limbs, you are ready to venture inward and enhance your inner landscape. The fifth limb of the 8 limbs is Pratyahara. It refers to the disconnection of an individual from his senses. In other words, it is all about shifting your focus away from external chaos. 

With so much going on in the world coupled with constantly increasing coronavirus cases and buzzing cell phones, this is no easy feat but it is essential for living your best life.  Practicing Pratyahara will withdraw all your senses from external stimuli so you can become aware of your internal environment. 

Incorporating Pratyahara into daily life 

Pratyahara involves awareness and reflection, Mudras (body/hand gestures), and Bandhas (energetic body locks). Implementing and incorporating the fifth limb of yoga might seem abstract, but it is quite simple. Practicing Pratyahara acquires you to be less affected by external forces that are out of control. 

For instance, while heading to your studio, you can turn off your phone which is one of the external forces, and practice for an hour. By turning off your reaction to an external stimulus, you will be able to better move towards spiritual mastery.  

Rishikesh is the best place to learn yoga. Watch this video to get a glimpse!

#6 Dharana

Once you’ve mastered blocking all the external stimuli with the fifth limb, you can take things to the next level by implementing the sixth limb of yoga, Dharana. Better known as concentration, it involves the singular holding of one thought or focus in the mind, meditating on breath, or chanting a mantra repeatedly with deep focus and concentration. 

Dharana is not easy and requires you to practice it again and again in order for it to click. To get a grip of this limb out of 8 yoga limbs, you need to follow these steps: 

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Bring your awareness to the third-eye space between the eyebrows and focus your attention. 
  • Try to concentrate.
  • When you find your mind begins to wander, bring your awareness back to the third eye, and breathe again.  

Set a timer for at least 3 minutes and then gradually work up your way up to 10-20 minutes, twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It will make you able to react, both internally and externally, calmly, and peacefully to the things that happen in your life. For instance, your colleague getting the promotion instead of you, your car breaking down, or your partner forgetting your anniversary again. 

#7 Dhyana 

The seventh out of 8 limbs of yoga is where your practice and benefits of meditation and pranayama begin to shine through. Dhyana which is interpreted as a meditation involves a state of quietness of mind, with little to no mental interruptions from the outside world. 

In dhyana, you will flow with the awareness of your focal point and become able to contemplate the focus without attachment or judgment. This is a difficult limb to master. A lot of meditators, be it experienced or non-experienced, fails to access this state. 

But this doesn’t mean you should stop trying! Using all the discipline, strength, and control over life-force gathered from the Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dhyana, you can achieve this limb with time, patience, and dedication.  

Watch our 200 hrs yoga teacher training student share her Rishikesh experience 

#8 Samadhi 

Samadhi is the 8th limb of yoga. By reaching this point of the yoga tree, you are ready to achieve the ultimate bliss and a deep and everlasting connection to the divine source which was always present. The inward yoga journey will take you so deep that it becomes both inward and outward; you will become one and will be divine, one with all. 

Tranquil union and bliss will completely absorb you. It will liberate yourself from the ego, the monkey mind, all the desires & fantasies, and live in cosmic connection with the source. In simple words, it is the stage of enlightenment, the ultimate goal of your yoga practice.  

You can simply implement and incorporate this limb by noticing your joy and circumstances that allow you to be in that state of being. 

limbs of yoga

Above are the 8 limbs of yoga. Consciously applying them throughout each day, to the best of your ability will lead you to a higher quality of life. Also, once you have a basic understanding of the 8 limbs of the yoga tree, it becomes easy for you to roll yourself in extreme yoga teacher training practice. Just make sure to be gentle and pace yourself as you will work with many lifetimes of ancient yogic knowledge!  

Got queries regarding yoga practice? Send them at info@spiritualpundiz.com and have them answered by our highly experienced yoga experts.

Also, take a sneak peek of these useful articles to become more engrossed in the world of yoga. 

Best way to learn pranayama for beginners

Become a yoga teacher with 200 hours yoga TTC in Rishikesh

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Bitnami banner