8 Limbs of Yoga
1) Yamas – Social Restraints; a set of guidelines for how we should interact with others.
- Ahimsa: Non-violence, doing no harm
- Satya: Truthfulness
- Asteya: Non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: Appropriate use of one's vital energy, moderation
- Aparigraha: Non-hoarding, non-possessiveness
2) Niyamas – Internal Restraints; a set of guidelines governing our relationship with ourselves.
- Saucha: Cleanliness, purity
- Santosha: Contentment
- Tapas: Literally, “heat”, practice that causes change, austerity
- Swadhyaya: Self-study
- Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to the Divine
3) Asanas – Physical postures. Together with Pranayama (and, sometimes, meditation), this constitutes what most Westerners practice as Hatha Yoga.
4) Pranayama – Breath control or breath retention. Breath is our prana, or vital life energy, and can energize or calm us, as well as helping us learn to
turn inward, a great first step in developing a meditation practice. In more advanced trainings, we will learn about the various breathing techniques.
5) Pratyahara – Encompasses withdrawal of senses and a turning inward to prepare. Without this ‘turning inward’ we would be unable to focus or concentrate to
move toward a meditative state.
6) Dharana – Practice of focus and concentration. Asanas and Pranayama help us gain focus and aid us in our ability to concentrate on an object, task, or stillness.
7) Dhyana – Meditation. Learning to focus and turn inward leads to the ability to meditate, which can be thought of as a mental state that brings peace and stillness.
8) Samadhi – The most spiritually enlightened state we can reach. This is a state of bliss or enlightenment. Most of us reach it in bits and pieces, as it is fleeting and not
permanent. The more we practice Yoga, the more likely we are to be able to achieve this state more frequently.