People who know what is Ashtanga yoga must be familiar with the 8 limbs of yoga. Ashtanga can be translated as 8 limbs. Where Ashta stands for eight and the Anga stands for limb. It is an ancient art of yoga well explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Though all 8 limbs of yoga are interconnected, the role played by each yoga limb is completely different.
Learn Everything About 8 Limbs of Yoga
Here’s how practicing the ashtanga 8 limbs of yoga can bring transformative changes to your life.
Yama is the first limb of yoga that helps in guiding day-to-day activities and how to create relations with self and others. This is further divided into five steps:
Ahimsa – be always kind to yourself
Aparigraha – Get things you need
Asteya – do not steal
Brahamacharya – sexual abstention
Satya – be honest with others and yourself
Niyama is about making yourself indulge in various yoga practices that help in enhancing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This practice makes you aware of:
Santosha – Offering gratitude for what you have
Swadhyaya – Self-reflection
Saucha – Nourish your body with a healthy and hygienic diet
Tapas – Discipline your life
Pranidhana – Be devoted to the supreme power
You may find the term a bit familiar. Asana is to set your body in various postures for releasing the mental as well as physical stress. The yoga postures practiced in this limb of yoga are to balance your body’s energy and make it prepare for meditation. The purpose of Patanjali to find this limb of yoga is to discover a posture that could be best for meditation and pranayama.
The fourth limb of yoga is Dharana means concentration. During the practice, various exercises are included to better focus on things and still the mind. The practice of Dharana can be explained as the use of Drishti or focusing your eye on a specific point.
Dhyana is another important limb in the list of 8 limbs of yoga. Meditation is an example of the practice of dhyana. You can also understand dhyana as the practice that offers your being an experience of dissolution or absorption.
Pranayama is the practice of various breathing exercises that helps in controlling and enhancing prana, also known as a life force. Pranayama practice is also great for increased breath extension or retention, vitality, and mantra chanting.
Withdrawing senses so as to move attention from external to internal is Pratyahara all about. It is a practice that forms a strong sense of the withdrawal of senses. This can be experienced usually at the end of a yoga class with the help of Shavasana. This is also followed by going through the experience of mental space. This means you know what is going around you but at the same time being different from the outer world.
Samadhi is often explained as peak enlightenment. This is the state that every yoga enthusiast wants to achieve in his/her life. To make the most of this limb of yoga, you need to merge your higher self with the infinite by practicing meditation at a deeper level where the seer and seen both are the same. A state of bliss is what you experience when in Samadhi.
This is a brief overview of each of the 8 limbs of yoga. You can join yoga teacher training in India to explore more about yoga. Now, it all depends on you how you will be incorporating them into your daily life to change it.