What are the 8 Limbs of Yoga

If you are in a regular practice of yoga, you will likely hear your teacher mention that there is more to yoga than poses and deep breathing. While this part of yoga is a big part of the practice, there are six more limbs. So what are the?

1) Yama. The yamas are five ethical behaviors.  In its simplest form, doing the right thing.

  • Ahimsa – nonviolence
  • Satya – truthfulness
  • Asteya – non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya – moderation
  • Aparigraha – non-possessiveness

2) Niyama. While the yamas focus on what to do more of, the niyamas are self-disciplines.  There are five niyamas.

  • Saucha – cleanliness
  • Santosha – contentment
  • Tapas – endurance, discipline
  • Svadhyana – self study
  • Isvara Pranidhana

3) Asana. This is the limb most are familiar with, the poses.  Asana refers to the physical practice of yoga.  There are many forms of asana.

4) Pranayama.  This limb relates to the breathing involved in yoga, more specifically, deep breathing or breath control.

5) Pratyahara.  The practice of pratyhara is withdrawal of the senses to the external.  There is where we can really start to weave the different limbs together and observe places to make a change.

6) Dharana. Concentration is the key concept of this limb.  This generally comes after some practice with asana, pranayama and withdrawal of the sentences.

7) Dyhana.  Meditation, or the uninterrupted flow of concentration is the translation of this limb.  This can be one of the more challenging limbs for some, as it asks one to not focus, but rather have no thoughts at all.

8) Samadhi.  This limb is best described as bliss.  It is rooted in deep peace of all that is.