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What Are The Eight Limbs Of Ashtanga Yoga

The Eight Limbs Of Ashtanga

AYC – The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga – 02
  • 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.




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:

Believing in shastras and Gurus world
Pramada Believing in shastras and Gurus world
The only guru can help
Alabdha bumikatva Not getting the expected experience out of yoga The only guru can help
Anavastitiva Not able to retain the experience for a long time The only guru can help

An Overview Of The Eight Limbs Of Yoga

Heres a brief overview of each of the eight limbs:

  • TheYamasare rules of moral code and include ahimsa , satya , asteya , bramacharya , and aparigraha .
  • The Niyamas are rules of personal behavior including saucha , santosha , tapas , svadhyaya , and Ishvara Pranidhana .
  • Asana refers to yoga postures but in Patanjalis initial practice, it referred to mastering the body to sit still for meditation. The practice of yoga asanas came about eight centuries later, which helped disciples ready their bodies for meditation.
  • Pranayamaare yoga breathing techniques designed to control prana or vital life force.
  • Pratyaharameans withdrawal of the senses.
  • Dharana refers to concentration.
  • Dhyana is the practice of meditation.
  • Samadhi is merging with the divine.
  • The practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga is referred to as practicing raja yoga, or the Royal Path, named to distinguish the practice from hatha yoga, which came later. Raja yoga creates stillness and contemplation as the path unfolds throughout the eight limbs which then folds back to the first couple of verses in the sutras, fromprakruti back to purusha:

    Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah

    Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam.

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    What Are The Yamas

    The first limb, the Yamas or ethical restraints/external disciplines, have five aspects:

    • Ahimsa non-violence/reverence and compassion for all life
    • Satya truthfulness/integrity

    The second limb, the Niyamas or spiritual observances/internal disciplines, also have five aspects:

    • Sauca cleanliness/purity of body, thoughts, and emotions
    • Santosa contentment/peace with oneself and others
    • Tapas self-discipline and purification/inner fire
    • Svadhyaya self-study and the study of the sacred
    • Isvara pranidhana surrender to the Divine

    The Eight Limbs Of Yoga Explained

    8 Limbs of Yoga

    Theres more to yoga than beautiful postures and deep breathing. Learn about the eight limbs of yoga that eloquently define the guidelines of this life-enriching practice.

    You know ashtanga as the physical form of yoga practice that has become famous in studios and gyms around the world. But what you may;not know is that astanga refers to much more than just a series of postures and breathing. Astanga literally means eight limbs or eight parts and refers to eight different aspects of yoga practice defined by the great sage Patanjali as a method for reaching the state of yoga.

    Prior to defining the eight limbs, Patanjali tells;us that by practicing the limbs of yoga, the impurities are gradually removed and the inner light of wisdom is revealed, leading to perfect discrimination. In order to reach the state of yoga, you must first purify your system through yogas limbs. The first four limbs should be practiced diligently in order to move beyond them and experience yogas essencea state of mental and spiritual clarity that allows you to reach your highest potential.

    The Eight Limbs of Yoga

    Yama are social observances. They are the way that we regulate our behavior in relation to others. There are five yamas and when practiced perfectly, Patanjali calls them the great observances.

    Niyama are personal observances. They are observances that are important for progression on the path of yoga. There are five niyamas.

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    Limbs Of Ashtanga Yoga Or Raja Yoga

    There are 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga according to Patanjali. Each of the limbs is specifically crafted to achieve Moksha step by step. The main goal of Ashtanga yoga is Kaivalya or Mukthi . Each limb is capable of raising human consciousness to another level. Only some part of Ashtanga yoga is physical and most of them deal with the mind. Out of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga, the last three are more of internal sadhana and apart from those all are external sadhana.

  • Yama
  • Dhyana
  • Samadhi
  • Yama and Niyama are the basic rules which everyone needs to practice before getting into the higher steps of Ashtanga yoga. Without them, the person cannot perform the higher steps, or even if he performs it doesnt last long. These are moral and ethical guidelines which helps a lot for developing strong moral consciousness and it keeps you away from the Karmic cycle.

    Yama and Niyama rules help you in Chitta Vritti Nirodha or Chitta Shuddi or purification of mind. ;Without the perfect practice of Yama and Niyama a person will come to such lower states which he never imagined.

    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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    The Essential Guide: 8 Limbs Of Yoga By Maharishi Patanjali

    Around the second century BC, there lived a rishi named Maharshi Patanjali who was the first to systematize the already existing ancient practices of yoga. Considered as the Father of Yoga, his 196 yoga sutras have become the basis of yoga practice today.;

    Modern notions of fitness have equated yoga to a practice that only helps us in losing weight, toning different parts of the body, and building muscles, limiting our understanding of this holistic way of life. An unfortunate consequence being that we have lost sight of what yoga is really about – all-round development of the body, mind, and spirit. A tool for us to walk the path of wisdom and enlightenment.

    Particularly famous are Rishi Patanjalis Ashtanga yoga or the eight limbs of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that these eight limbs of yoga should all develop simultaneously for us to experience Divine consciousness and eternal bliss.

    Niyama Positive Duties Or Observances

    The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

    The second limb, Niyama,;usually refers to duties directed towards ourselves, but can also be considered with our actions towards the outside world. The prefix ni is a Sanskrit verb which means inward or within.There are five Niyamas:;

    Niyamas;are traditionally practised by those who wish to travel further along the Yogic path and are intended to build character. Interestingly, the Niyamas closely relate to the;Koshas,;our sheaths or layers leading from the physical body to the essence within. As youll notice, when we work with the Niyamas from saucha to isvararpranidhana we are guided from the grossest aspects of ourselves to the truth deep within.;

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    How Do I Memorise The 8 Limbs Of Yoga

    To help you memorize the 8 limbs, first remember that the first 4 deal with the outside world, then there is a transitional one, and then there are three inside world limbs. Categorizing like this will help you remember their exact contents better.Once youve got those limbs down, move on to memorize the Yamas and Niyamas.You can also use the image below to help you remember the 8 limbs better. Click it to access the 8 limbs of yoga printable in a new tab!

    The Complete Guide To Ashtanga 8 Limbs Of Yoga

    Do you want to stay healthy without using any artificial stimulants or supplements? How about giving yoga a try? This ancient art has been a part of many different cultures around the world for centuries. Moreover, with time various yoga practitioners came up with different yoga styles which made yoga a global phenomenon. One of the prominent yoga styles that are also effective when it comes to enjoying overall well-being is Ashtanga yoga.

    For yoga beginners, the word Ashtanga is broken down into two different parts namely Ashta meaning eight, and Anga means limbs. Ashtanga yoga refers to the eight limbs of yoga. This yoga style came into being over 2000 years by Sage Patanjali who wrote Yoga Sutras. However, there is a lot more to Ashtanga yoga. The yoga experts have come up with a complete guide.

    Let us first find out a bit about this yoga style.

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    The Sutras Of Patanjali

    The word sutra means to thread or weave just as the English word suture means to stitch together. The Sutras of Patanjali are divided into four sections or padas. The practice of yoga comes from section two called the Sadhana Pada.Ashtanga means eight and refers to Patanjalis eight limbs or branches of yoga. Each branch, when practiced, is designed to help the practitioner live a more disciplined life with the goal of alleviating suffering.

    Patanjalis goal for us is that through these practices, we can still the mind and merge into oneness with the divine. When we awaken to divine essence, we are able to live fully from a place of authenticity. We are able to discern who we really are and what our purpose is. We dont have to look to the exterior to determine right from wrong, all the answers are found within.

    An Introduction To Yoga: All You Need To Know Before You Begin

    The Eight Limbs  Yoga Shala West
    • Post author

    Are you a beginner and you want to start practicing yoga, but dont even have an idea about: What it is? Where did it originate from? What are the benefits? Is it a workout or a meditation method? Just like any other beginner, Im sure the questions almost seem endless. Which is why this Introduction to Yoga will explain everything you need to know before you start.

    This is All You Need to Know Before You Begin practicing yoga, which will enable you to get started with less confusion as soon as you finish reading. Regardless of whether yoga is going to be a purely physical exercise, a meditation practice, or a lifestyle. Well, thats the beauty of it, with yoga, you can decide how it should exist in your life.

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    Entities In 8 Limbs Of Ashtanga Yoga

    Yoga sutras have a total of 195 stotras and it has been classified into 4 padas such as Samadhi pada, Sadhana pada, vibuthi pada, and Kaivalya pada. Ashtanga; yoga or Raja yoga considers 3 tattvas or entities such as Ishwara , Purusha , Prakruthi as sole entities.

    Information on the entities and their characteristics are given below:

    Below are the characteristics of Ishwara explained in Ashtanga yoga:

    • He is the only one i.e. there is only one god.
    • He is not bounded by birth and death.
    • He is free from all the karmas and he is the knower of everything , Present everywhere , he can do anything.

    characteristics of Purusha: Purusha is so many in number and they are not perishable in nature. They are nothing but a soul and a living entity.

    characteristics of Prakruthi: Prakruthi is a rigid and non-living entity. It is also called nature or Avidya .

    All the Purushas are bounded by the cycle of birth and death due to their association with Prakruthi and everything happens under the will of Ishwara . Three Gunas of Prakruthi are Satva, Rajas, and Tamas which makes the Purusha do karma and get caught in the cycle of birth and death.

    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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    Ashtanga Yoga: Eight Limbs Of Yog:

  • Yam
  • and Samadhi
  • Now let us discuss all these eight terms in description. Hope everyone will follow it, to make this world beautiful and happier.

    1. Yam-

    The first principle of Ashtang yog, says about resisting passions. It means driving your mind and thinking away from the physical prosperity of the word, which is name, fame, wealth and physical happiness.

    2. Niyam-

    It means Scriptural rules. It means excretion, contentment, penance, regular study of Vedas; all these keeps the devotion towards the God The devotee should be purified, tolerating challenges, away from violence and freed from all such pollutions of world.

    3. Asana-

    Asana means posture, devotees should practice to sit attentively and comfortably for long periods while worshiping and meditating. Sitting in padmasana, siddhasana or sukhasana are the comfortable poses.

    4. Pranayama

    The controlling of inhalation and exhalation, is called Pranayama. It should be done after completing Asanas. There has been described four types of pranayama; Bahyavritti pranayama, Abhyantarvritti pranayama, Stambhvritti pranayama and Bahyabhyantar-Vishaya kshepi.

    5. Pratyahara-

    The victory over the mind from deviating to all other subjects and focusing the senses and mind, inwards is known as Pratyahara. When one controls ones mind through detachment and wisdom, the senses get controlled automatically.

    6. Dharna-

    7. Dhayan-

    8. Samadhi-

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  • JASBIR SINGHJuly 18, 2016


  • What Are The 8 Limbs Of Yoga

    The 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga

    Yoga is a practice of transforming and benefitting every aspect of life, not just the 60 minutes spent on a rubber mat; if we can learn to be kind, truthful and use our energy in a worthwhile way, we will not only benefit ourselves with our practice, but everything and everyone around us.

    In BKS Iyengars translation of the sutras Light On The Yoga Sutras, he explains that Yamas are;unconditioned by time, class and place, meaning no matter who we are, where we come from, or how much yoga weve practised, we can all aim to instil the Yamas within us.;

    Read more about the;Yamas and Niyamas

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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

    The Conclusion

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