Category Archives: meditation

8 Limbs of Yoga – The Basics

The Yoga Sutra is a fundamental guide for living with a cultivated body, mind, and spiritual awareness, written in India between 200 B.C and 200 A.D. by physician, Pantajali. This ancient text outlines the eightfold path, called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb)

These eight steps act as guidelines toward living a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.

Source: Ayuh Yoga

Eventually, I will go into more detail about what each of these limbs means. In the meantime here is the lowdown on the 8 limbs at their most basic analysis.

1. Yama – Self-restraints (how we morally interact with each other)

  • Ahimsa: Nonviolence
  • Satya: Truthfulness
  • Asteya: Nontheft
  • Brahmacharya: Nonlust
  • Aparigraha: No greed 

2. Niyama – Self-restraints (how we morally interact with ourselves)
  • Saucha: Cleanliness
  • Santosa: Contentment
  • Tapas: Sustained practice
  • Svadhyaya: Self study
  • Isvara pranidhana: Dedication
3. Asana – Practice of yoga postures and movements, control of body
4. Pranayama – Practice of breathing exercises and techniques, control of breath and life force
5. Pratyahara – Practice of bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, control of senses
6. Dharana – Concentration and steadying of the mind free of external (noises) or internal (useless thoughts) distractions.
7. Dhyana – Meditation
8. Samadhi – Bliss, aka: enlightenment.
These eight steps of yoga interact and intertwine with one another, like branches on a tree, and guide along the pathway to attain of physical, ethical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health. Yoga allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.