What Are the 8 Limbs of Yoga (and How Can They Help You Live a Fulfilling Life?)

When we think of yoga, we often picture crowded studios with students in stylish clothes twisting their bodies into difficult shapes. However, the true practice of yoga is much more than that. In fact, yoga is the Sanskrit word for union, the alignment of mind, body, and spirit. And, while the concept of yoga is simple, the practice consists of many facets.
The most well-known yoga text is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which provides a framework for the practice of yoga. In this book, Patanjali defines the Eight Limbs of Yoga, guidelines to help us live fuller, happier lives. These recommendations are particularly important for those who have struggled with addiction and whose internal compasses may need some assistance to rediscover balance as they strive to recover. That said, whether we are addressing addictive behaviors or simply seeking greater fulfillment, the Eight Limbs of Yoga are universal practices from which we can all benefit.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

  • Yamas: The Yamas are guidelines to help us treat others as we would like to be treated.
  • Niyamas: The Niyamas are our own rituals and practices. They are those activities that help us nurture the body, mind, and spirit.
  • Asana: Asana practice is what we typically see in a yoga studio; it is the practice of yoga postures, which help keep our bodies – the vehicles for our minds and spirits – healthy, flexible, and strong.
  • Pranayama: Pranayama exercises are breathing techniques that bring energy and calmness to the mind, body, and spirit.
  • Pratyahara: The practice of Pratyahara centers on turning our attention inward, away from the outside world.
  • Dharana: Dharana is concentration, and this practice helps us move away from our thoughts as we enter meditation.
  • Dhyana: Dhyana is finding stillness through meditation.
  • Samadhi: Samadhi is translated as transcendence, when we understand and experience the true Self and feel totally connected with the whole of the Universe.We have an exciting series of upcoming blog posts explaining how to apply each Limb of Yoga to your life in greater detail. To learn more about how each limb can improve your health and happiness, click the link on each of the Limbs listed above. We’ll link each post as it’s published.Namaste.