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The 8 Limbs Of Yoga Program
You can learn how to put these into action in our 8 week guided program The Eight Limbs of Yoga. with talks, yoga, Pranayama and meditation. Go deeper and truly enrich your yoga practice and hopefully, your life. Register for your 14-day free trial with EkhartYoga to get started.
Learn more in this talk from Anat Geiger.
Anat gives us an accessible overview of The 8 Limbs of Yoga each of which offers guidance on how to live a conscious, meaningful and purposeful life.
The 8 Limbs Of Yoga Explained
Yoga is more than the practice of asana, or physical postures. Living yoga means integrating the principles of yoga into your thoughts, words and actions it means taking yoga beyond your mat. Learn more about living yoga and explore a variety of class option such as Tantrik Meditations, Yogic Paths and Injury, Inquiry and Insight to expand your practice.
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What Do Eight Limbs Of Yoga Mean
The eight limbs of yoga are the eightfold path known as Ashtanga . The eight limbs of yoga construct a structural framework for yoga or the steps taken through a yoga practice. It is believed that the practice of the eight limbs of yoga leads to spiritual realization. The eight-limbed yoga has been described as a way towards enlightenment in the Yoga Sutras.
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We have loads of interesting and intelligent Yoga Blog Posts, so please keep exploring. If you want to contact the Author with questions or to sign up for a course, just Write Us.
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Introduction To Patanjalis Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of texts that form the foundation of classical yoga philosophy . The 196 sutras, meaning threads, are short verses of essential wisdom which, As yoga study and practice develop takes on a deeper resonance and becomes more relevant, more revealing . The sutras are organised into four chapters or pada.
The second chapter, about practising yoga, is called Sadhana Pada. Sadhana means practice or discipline. It addresses the first five limbs the action-focussed yoga and emphasises that effort self-discipline, self-study and self-surrender to God must be made to attain freedom.
Iyengar reflects on this stating that The right means are just as important as the end in view.for the quest for the soul.
The Sadhana Pada explores the Kleshas or obstacles to progress, and Sadhana, the discipline of yoga. The last three limbs are explored in chapter three Vibhuti Pada which is about the powers and possible achievements that may lead to a state of perfection .
In this paper I will briefly describe the eight limbs of yoga, exploring the concepts they present and reflecting on the challenges they hold for my life, practice and teaching.
The 8 Limbs Of Yoga Explained In Easy Terms
Once you start learning a little more about yoga, youll find out that it is way more than a physical exercise. It is a thousand-year-old system to help you live a fuller, better life.
To do that, yoga employs 8 different pathways to get you closer to oneness. These 8 limbs of yoga were collected by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga sutras.
These texts are many hundred years old, however, and have been written in Sanskrit. Not ideal for us to learn about his idea. And then they deal with quite philosophical topics, making it even harder to really grasp the concepts.
To make this important part of yoga philosophy a little more accessible, Im going to explain the eight limbs of yoga in plain, simple English. Once youve read through this, youll have a much better idea of what the 8-fold-path of yoga is all about.
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Obstacles Or Warning Before Doing Ashtanga Yoga
Today everyone is rushing to do Ashtanga yoga just by learning things online or going to some fake Gurus. Without the help of Real GURU if someone practices it then the person gets his life damaged. Before even doing Yama and Niyama there are some certain guidelines which are given by Patanjali for a practitioner.
Before getting the liberation or Kaivalya, sage Patanjali states 9 obstacles that a practitioner gets while practicing Ashtanga yoga are:
|Not able to retain the experience for a long time||The only guru can help|
What To Expect In A Hatha Yoga Class
Generally, a Hatha class lasts 90 minutes. The class is divided into four sections.
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Yamas And Niyamas In Your Daily Life
So, how can we integrate these rules into our lives, in a world that already gives us too many rules?
The trick is to think of Yamas and Niyamas as tools to spice up a yoga practice, to keep the practice interesting. The practice of yoga is not only a 60 minutes exercise routine, but its also a way of life.
The best way to practice yamas and niyamas is to live them.
- Ahimsa Non-violence refraining to hurt others with words, becoming vegetarian or stop gossiping.
- Asteya is referring to not-stealing including peoples time if you have to send an email to a client, be short and concise if you need information try to google it before interrupting your colleague show up on time when you have an appointment.
- Aparigraha non-greediness learn to let go of people, of thoughts, of situations because life keeps changing and nothing is permanent. Your wardrobe is full of clothes you dont use anymore? Give it to charity.
On the other hand, the Niyamas:
- Saucha is about purity and internal/external cleanliness, keep your body clean and healthy eating sattvic food, where possible organic and from ethical sources, keep your space clean and tidy.
- Santosha is regarding practicing contentment and gratitude, be present and let go of what you cant control, be happy with what you have.
I assure you it will be easy to introduce these little rules into your life, and they will change the way you see your yoga practice and the world.
How Bhagavad Gita Teaches Hatha Yoga
Just like Yoga-Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita teaches to transcend the conceptions of I and build on love for God also known as ishvara-pranidhana . Patanjali talks about a one-pointed movement of the mind towards a single target which he further denotes as the Ishvara while at the same time Bhagavad Gita elucidates further on how this goal can be achieved.
Edwin Byrant has pointed out how Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita has all the qualities which Patanjali pertains to God namely represented by om, awarding enlightenment, being transcendental to karma, untouched by time as well as a teacher of the ancients. Likewise, Krishna is represented as being the beginning, middle as well as the end of everything and is not bound by karma.
The Gita addresses all the eight limbs of hatha yoga. The first limb, known as yama, consists of five different ethical principles namely truthfulness, nonviolence, non-covetousness, continence and abstention from stealing which are also present in the Gita. Likewise, the second limb known as niyama consists of self-reflection, austerity, contentment, worship and cleanliness which are also present in Lord Krishnas text.
Further, samyama, the perfect practice is also paid attention to in the Bhagavad Gita. Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to fix his mind upon the Lord and engage all his intelligence in Him by which Arjuna will be able to live in the Lord. The Lord further guides Arjuna to follow the principles of Bhakti yoga to fix the mind on the Lord.
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Where Can I Try Hatha Yoga
That isnt necessarily a bad thing. Even with the dumbingdown of the original teachings, hatha yoga still serves a crucialrole in todays society and adaptation has been a necessary part ofits success. Also, you can still learn all you want about the eightfold path and apply it to your life in the way that feels right toyou.
As a teacher of hatha yoga, I have felt that its deephistory and its broad definition in the west can be empowering. Iend up feeling challenged to deliver the eight fold path in a waythat feels sincere and connects with my students in a meaningfulway. It allows me to incorporate what I learn from other teachers,making each class its own unique experience, and allowing me toevolve as a teacher as my students progress.
If you are looking to try a hatha yoga class and you livein the city you will most likely be able to find something nearby.They are popular and are offered in many studios. If you have a matand space in your home, you could try one of our many hatha yogaclasses online. Here are a few great classes taught by ourteachers:
The 6 Branches Of Yoga
- Raja yoga. Meaning: Royal, Chief or King, alluding to being the best or highest form of yoga. Closely linked to Patanjalis Eight Fold Path of Yoga, Raja yoga is also known as Classical Yoga.
- Jnana yoga. Meaning: Wisdom or knowledge. This is the yoga of knowing, of realising the truth of oneself. First mentioned around 400BC, this is thought of as one of the most direct paths to insight and illumination, but also as one of the most difficult.
- Tantra yoga. Meaning: The root word of Tantra is Tan meaning to expand or to weave. It explores all aspects, sensations and energies that weave through the body and mind and actually began as a religion around 500BC.
- Hatha yoga. Meaning: The Yoga of Force. Many teachers equate Ha to mean Sun and Tha to mean moon, and reason that the physical yoga practice is intended to balance the Sun and Moon energies within us.
- Bhakti yoga. Meaning: Devotion. First mentioned in The Bhagavad Gita around 300BC, the word Bhakti comes from the root word Bhaj, of which the essence is to share.
- Karma yoga. Meaning: The Yoga of Action, also contemporarily known as the Religion of Love. The word Karma in this context is derived from the root verb Kri meaning to do.
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Understanding The Eight Limbs Of Yoga
Imagine looking at a big tree in its entirety, complete with all of its roots.
These roots anchor the tree firmly into the ground and help create a stable and strong foundation from where it can grow taller and taller, higher and higher.
You may have heard of the phrase as above, so below as within so without.
It applies perfectly to the tree example and the eight limbs.
The first four limbs provide us the roots and a sturdy foundation with which to anchor ourselves in preparation for growth and ascension.
As we progress through each limb we start to realize that our inner world creates our outer experience.
Pratyahara: Withdrawing Your Senses
So far, most things have been quite easy to explain. Pratyahara is the first limb to challenge that a little bit. It trains you to withdraw your senses from the outside world.
But what does that mean?
The way I understand it, it means to not let the things that your senses can detect control you. So while youll still hear the dog barking downstairs, for example, it wont distract you. In a way, it is becoming less responsive to the stimuli around you.
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Limbs Of Yoga Five Things You Should Know Before Enrolling For Ashtanga Yoga
Since you are aware by now that practicing the 8 limbs of yoga is not as easy as it appears to be, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind such as
1. Be Ready to Sweat
Practice of Ashtanga Yoga places emphasis on generating inner heat, also known as Agni. Ashtanga yoga also includes sun salutations to get the heart rate pumping and generate heat from inside. Experts recommend you hydrate beforehand but never drink water during the 90-minutes session.
2. Fast Paced and Repetitive
Each ashtanga yoga class includes specific poses that you practice in the same order every time. Usually, the class starts with 10 Surya Namaskar also known as sun salutations to warm up the body and keep the blood flowing. The practice resembles more of a fluid dance and relaxes the body and mind.
3. Ashtanga Heavy on the Hamstrings
The majority of individuals taking up a yoga training course of ashtanga yoga do not know what hamstrings are. Ashtanga yoga puts pressure on the hamstrings whether you are doing forward bends in standing position or touching both toes while seated. You learn to contour the body like never before and that places a bit of pressure on the hamstrings.
4. Yoga Instructor Might Touch You
You should understand that Ashtanga yoga relies more on assistance rather than demonstrations. The instructor in the class has the necessary training and experience to push your body into deeper and uncomfortable positions.
5. Focuses on the Bandhas
What Is Ashtanga Yoga Explaining The 8 Limbs
Sometimes yoga words can be complicated. Especially if youre a new yogi.
Complicated words and descriptions mean people get overwhelmed and uncomfortable when they think about doing yoga. And thats definitely not what myYogaTeacher is all about!
Yoga is a practice that incorporates philosophy, meditation, breathwork, behavioral principles, and physical exercise into ones life. Its a lifestyle.
We want everyone who comes to us, from young to old, from out of shape to fitness fanatics, to feel like our virtual yoga studio is a safe space to learn about and practice yoga. No judgement. Every question is a good question.
Thats why I wanted to talk to you about ashtanga yoga. What does that word mean anyway, you ask?
Im going to explain what it is and why its even important to know what it is. If youre interested in experiencing ashtanga yoga in action, I invite you to try my Ashtanga Yoga Class on myYogaTeacher!
The Sanskrit word ashtanga means 8 limbs. Lets explore what those are so we can understand and deepen our yoga practice!
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The Eight Limbs Of Ashtanga
- The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga
Patanjalis Classical Yoga refers to the Eight-Limbed Path of yoga practice. Like a tree with different branches that extend from the same trunk, the eight limbs are different forms of practice, but lead to the same goal of reunification with Consciousness. The consciousness with which we seek unification is our own true nature as embodied spirit.
Although the imagery of branches on a tree implies a sequential approach, in practice the limbs can work simultaneously to draw us closer to our essential nature. A detailed description can be found in B.K.S. Iyengars Light on Yoga. The limbs are:
The Yamas are universal ethical disciplines reffering to qualities that are supportive of yoga practice and which yoga practice cultivates: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Self-restraint and Non-hoarding. A spontaneous practice of Non-violence to every sentient being is indicative of an understanding that we are all connected. What we do to another we are doing to ourselves, as we are doing to ourselves, as we are all forms of the One.
Dharana is a state of refined concentration, with the movement of prana stable. This state is a precursor to meditation.
Samadhi Bliss Or Enlightenment
Many of us know the word samadhi as meaning bliss or enlightenment, and this is the final step of the journey of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. After weve re-organised our relationships with the outside world and our own inner world, we come to the finale of bliss.
When we look at the word samadhi though, we find out that enlightenment or realisation does not refer to floating away on a cloud in a state of happiness and ecstasy. Sorry.
Breaking the word in half, we see that this final stage is made up of two words sama meaning same or equal, and dhi meaning to see. Theres a reason its called realisation and its because reaching Samadhi is not about escapism, floating away or being abundantly joyful its about realising the very life that lies in front of us.
The ability to see equally and without disturbance from the mind, without our experience being conditioned by likes, dislikes or habits, without a need to judge or become attached to any particular aspect that is bliss.
Theres just one catch though Samadhi isnt a permanent state. Patanjalis Yoga Sutras importantly tell us that unless we are completely ready, without impressions such as attachment, aversion, desires and habits, and with a completely pure mind, we will not be able to maintain the state of Samadhi for long:
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