Limbs of yoga – we will make it easy for you to undestand.
If you are a fan of yoga, then you have most likely heard of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. If you haven’t, then you will learn more about this today.
The Patanjali’s yoga sutras are one of the best sources of guidance and inspiration for yogis since they give them more information about living a balanced life. Or in other words – they share the knowledge about the 8 limbs of yoga.
The Yoga Sutras – what are they?
The Yoga Sutras are a complete set of scriptures, called sutras, that outline the yoga theory. They were written by Patanjali, a sage, around 500 B.C., in India, during its Medieval age. They define the eight limbs of yoga, which aim to teach us the different facets of embodying the unity of mind, spirit, and body.
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The Yoga Sutras and the 8 limbs of yoga are the base of yoga and the guidance for all yogis. The 8 limbs are: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. It is said that if a person wants to experience the divine consciousness and the eternal bliss of body, mind, and spirit, he has to develop and follow all the limbs of the practice.
The first of the limbs of yoga is called “Yama,” and it is about dealing with our ethical standards and sense of integrity. Yama relates to the Golden Rule we all know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It teaches us how to focus and develop our behavior, so we conduct ourselves in the right way.
Yama helps us understand how the world around us works and how we should interact with it. There are 5 Yamas:
Ahimsa – non-violence
Ahimsa refers to a behavior that will nourish growth and social justice. It teaches us to treat and care for others as if they are part of us.
Satya – truthfulness
Satya refers to finding our true selves and acting like them, not wearing a mask and having different personalities. It teaches us how to show our true character to the world to live closely with reality, speak only the truth, and go against injustice.
Asteya – no stealing
The principle of Asteya is the following “do not take material items from others.” It is about respecting other people’s sources, time, and energy. This principle is applied not only to people but also to the Earth. This means that when we take from the land, we should give back to create balance.
Brahmacharya – using the energy in the right way
Brahmacharya teaches us to treat our life forces as essential. It is about using our energy correctly to align with others. It’s one of the eight limb Hatha yoga.
Aparigraha – non-hoarding, non-greed
Aparigraha relies on greed being evil and a sign of materialism. To develop your spirit, you should believe you have all you need. This will help money, blessing, and even material items flow effortlessly in your life.
Yama teaches us that yoga is a practice that will transform not only our bodies but every aspect of our lives. Practicing Yama includes being kind, using your energy in a good way for the world and the people around you, being truthful, and not benefiting only yourself.
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The second of the limbs of yoga is called “Niyama” and is about self-discipline and observing your spirit. It teaches us to pay attention to ourselves and consider our actions toward others. In other words, Niyama gives us the standards that should be followed for better self-discipline and personal development. It’s one of the limbs of yoga that excite people the most.
There are 5 Niyamas:
Saucha – cleanliness
Saucha says that purifying our body and mind is essential to achieving the ultimate spiritual development. It refers to keeping our body and mind clean and complete with only positive thoughts about ourselves and the people around us. Once our mind is clear, the Divine is ready to enter us.
Santosha – contentment
Santosha is about practicing the ability to feel content with everything happening at the moment. We are all used to striving for more and more and not being satisfied with what we have now. We will feel much better when we start feeling complete with the present.
Tapas – heat
Tapas relates heat to pain and reminds us that when we develop ourselves, there may be a pain. Still, instead of giving up, we should use it as fuel and become even better by learning and growing.
Svadhyaya – self-knowledge
Yoga is about getting to know our authentic selves. This is what Svadhyaya is about – going deeper into our inner world, learning more about our consciousness, and giving it the power it deserves.
Isvara pranidhana – surrender to God
Isvara pranidhana is all about surrendering ourselves to a higher power. Yoga does not promote a God. It allows us to follow a supreme divine being, which can be anything in our minds. This will enable us to try to connect with this being with the help of yoga. (More about the Divine in yoga you can read here)
Niyama, one of the limbs of yoga, is practiced by those who are really devoted to the practice of yoga and the path of building your spirit. The first two limbs are more about our mind and how we should live our lives, while the other 6 limbs are more about the practice and the techniques around it.
The third of the limbs is called “Asana” and is all about the postures practiced in yoga. According to Patanjali, the movements practiced during yoga should be done joyfully and without difficulty. Asana teaches us that taking your time with every pose that seems difficult to you is essential instead of moving from one to another. This will help you be fully present and focused on your posture, mind, and breathing.
Asana teaches us that we should never push ourselves too much since this may lead to injuries. Yoga is not meant to push us over our limitations but to help us relax and connect with our inner selves. Even though most of the yoga postures are not intense, practicing Asana daily will increase your flexibility and the wellness of your mind and body. By practicing Asana, we will develop a habit of concentration and discipline, both essential for meditation.
The fourth of the limbs of yoga is called “Pranayama” and is translated as “control of the breath.” It includes all the techniques that will help you master the respiratory process, leading to the recognition between the emotion, the mind, and most importantly – the breath.
Yoga teaches us that breathing is directly connected with our interaction with life and the energy around us. If we can breathe mindfully, we can give our bodies the needed energy to change how we react to stress. Pranayama’s formula is 1:4:2: ratio – inhaling for 1 second, then retaining our breath for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 2 seconds.
Of course, there are other breathing practices, but all of those lead to one primary goal – having control over your breath, mind, and body. Yogis believe that the proper breathing technique will positively affect the body’s lifespan and health. Pranayama can be practiced as part of the yoga routine or as a daily technique. We are really excited about this one of the limbs of yoga.
The fifth of the limbs of yoga is called “Pratyahara.” It is all about withdrawing your senses and isolating your consciousness from all the distractions in the world. The fifth limb is the final preparation for getting into the practice of meditation and divine energy. It teaches us how to find the peacefulness we are all looking for.
By practicing Pratyahara, we can take a step back and look at ourselves and our lives. This allows us to observe our aims and habits and see what actually helps us for inner growth and what takes us back from it.
The sixth of the limbs of yoga is called “Dharana,” which means ” concentration.” Concentration is essential for getting into a state of deep meditation. Many people choose to look at an unmoving object or to repeat a phrase to concentrate and train their minds. However, others prefer to enjoy the silence with closed eyes.
Once you learn to focus your mind during meditation, you can take this concentration into your daily life. This means that when doing a task, you will be able to focus on it will all of your energy and perform it in the best possible way. Dharana is not an easy practice, and it takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to control your mind and thoughts, so you should be patient.
When practicing Pranayama and Asana, we pay attention to our actions but do not need to control our minds entirely. When we practice breathing, we are allowed to think, and when practicing pratyahara, we observe ourselves.
However, while practicing Dharana, all we have to do is concentrate and focus our minds and attention on one single point. Once we can focus entirely, we will be able to meditate.
The seventh of the limbs of yoga is called “Dhyana” and is the actual contemplation, or in other words – meditation. Even though Dharana and Dhyana may look alike, there is a distinction between the two stages.
Dharana teaches us how to focus on one point, while Dhyana is the state of being aware of everything without needing to focus.
When practicing Dhyana, our mind is quiet, and it does not produce thoughts at all. It takes a lot of practice, strength and patience to reach this point, but once you have done it – you will feel impressed. Even though it may seem challenging – do not give up. Yoga is a whole process, and every stage has its benefits for our minds and body.
The eighth of the limbs of yoga is called “Samadhi” and is described as a ‘state of ecstasy, the enlightenment. This is the last stage of ashtanga, combining focus and transcendence of the Self altogether. Once you have gotten to this point – you will connect with the Divine, experience the bliss, and unite with the Universe.
The 8 limbs’ journey aims to get us to the being-ness instead of keeping us in the doing-ness. When we master all the other limbs of yoga, we will be able to accomplish the essential part of our spiritual journey – we will be able to keep our mind and body in the present moment all the time, to be happy and united with the Divine.
For some people, yoga may be a way of exercising and relaxing the mind and body. However, it actually is much more. Yoga is a spiritual path passed through people for many years. It is the peak of spiritual development – the rise of infinite consciousness. Don’t forget that yoga is a process that takes time to get to the final and best stage – enlightenment. If you have decided to go on this journey – good luck, and congratulations on making one of the best decisions in your life! We hope this article about the limbs of yoga was helpful to you.
What are the Yoga Sutras?
The Yoga Sutras are a set of scriptures written by Patanjali that outline the yoga theory. They define the 8 limbs of yoga, which are aimed at teaching us the different facets of embodying the unity of body, mind, and spirit.
What is represented by Yama (limbs of yoga)?
The first of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Yama’, which is about dealing with a sense of integrity and ethical standards. It is about developing behavior that nourishes growth and care for others. It helps you to find your true self and act like it.
What is represented by Niyama (limbs of yoga)?
The second of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Niyama’, which is about observing your spirit and building self-discipline. It gives us standards that have to be followed or better self-discipline and personal development.
What is represented by Asana (limbs of yoga)?
The third of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Asana’, which is about the postures that are being practiced in yoga. They should be joyful and never too difficult. Yoga is about going over your limitations but being relaxed and happy at the same time.
What is represented by Pranayama (limbs of yoga)?
The fourth of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Pranayama’, which is about the techniques of breathing. The goal of this limb is to teach you to breathe and connect with life and the energy around you, to deal with your emotions, and control the levels of stress.
What is represented by Pratyahara (limbs of yoga)?
The fifth of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Pratyahara’, which is about isolating the consciousness from all the distractions around you and connecting with your divine energy, your inner self. It teaches you how to be peaceful and observe who you actually are.
What is represented by Dharana (limbs of yoga)?
The sixth of the limbs of yoga is called ‘Dharana’, which is all about the concentration that is needed for getting into a state of deep meditation. Its goal is to teach you how to focus your mind and control your thoughts.
What is represented by Dhyana (limbs of yoga)?
The seventh of the limbs of yoga is called Dhyana, which is about meditation. It is the next phase after Dharana, or in other words – it teaches you how to be aware of everything around you without having the need to focus.
What is represented by Samadhi (limbs of yoga)?
The eighth of the limbs of yoga is called Samadhi, which is about the state of ecstasy and enlightenment. This is the last stage of the journey when you can fully connect with the Devine and unite with the Universe.