top of page

Yoga is not about the posture....Patanjali's 8 Limbs

The word Yoga itself translated as 'Yoke or Union'.

It is the knowing that the mind, body and spirit are one.

The practice of achieving a state of Yoga is through the journey towards personal Samadhi (enlightenment). It is considered the state of peace and contentment that comes with sustained practice and meditation.

Many people think of Yoga as the physical asana practise you may experienced in westernised 'modern cult' classes. But if you dare to delve deeper into the nature of Yoga and the philosophy of the practice, you will soon see this physical practice is only one of 8 limbs.

The sacred sacred yogic text The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define 8 Limbs of moving towards Samadhi.

Western Yoga classes have become so watered down many only include 3 of the Limbs, Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control) and Dhyana (meditation) with no relevance of the true meaning on Yoga. They have become a stretch class or modified completely moving away from the true nature of the practice.

Purchase your copy of The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali here.

So what are the 8 Limbs of Yoga?

1. Yamas (universal principles)

2. Niyamas (observances)

3. Asana (physical postures)

4. Pranayama (breath)

5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)

6. Dharana (concentration)

7. Dhyana (meditation

8. Samadhi (enlightenment)

1. Yamas (universal principles)

Five ethical teachings outlining a code of conduct offers guidance on how to interact with others and the world around us.

Ahimsa (non-violence) A state of consciousness where you decide not to partake in violence. To kill or harm ANY form of life.

Satya (truthfulness) Honouring and living your own truth. Enquiring into and observing Satya brings awareness of your true self and the truth of existence.

Asteya (non-stealing)

Removing desire from the ego. Encouraging us to abandon the need to compare ourselves to others and ideals. Believing there is nothing lacking within you.

Brahmacharya (celibacy) Fidelity, consistency and honesty in relationships. Knowing your own vast nature and appreciating you are more than just your body.

Aparigraha (non-attachment)

Disconnecting from external acceptance and material possessions. Allowing yourself the freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome, experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be that resonates within you.

2. Niyama (observances)

Five ethical teachings or inward reflection. Observances to improve the self.

Saucha (purification) Purification of the body and mind in preparation for meditation. Identifying and releasing thought patterns that have the ability to distract us from our purpose and move towards inner focus.

Santosha (contentment) Expressing gratitude for the good things we already have in our lives.

Tapas (asceticism) Purification through self-discipline and the daily practice of postures or meditation which require self-control to maintain.

Svadhyaya (study) Self study and introspection. Memorising and repetition of sacred prayers and mantras.

Ishvara pranidhana (dedication to god/master) The practice of surrendering the ego to the supreme being in humility. It is thought that the character of the divine can be attained.

3. Asana (posture)

Finding comfort within the body and mind allowing for pranayama and meditation.

4. Pranayama (breath control)

Regulating the inhalation, exhalation, and retention of our breath in a cyclical manner. This centres us into the present moment drawing our focus/senses inward.

5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)

Drawing the senses inward. Isolating consciousness from distraction. Sensory input are noticed as external and allowed to pass without capturing our attention.

6. Dharana (concentration)

The first stage of meditation. Focusing all attention on a single point of focus (dristi) such as the navel or an image in their mind.

7. Dhyana (meditation)

Meditation on a single object to the exclusion of all others.

8. Samadhi (pure contemplation)

Merging with the object of meditation. Interpreted to mean union with the divine or with the entire universe.

Beyond the 8 limbs and modern-day yoga.

The application of the Eight Limbs has transformed tremendously from the time of their recording by Patanjali to our present day. The original Eight Limbs are so radically different it wouldn’t make sense for them to fit seamlessly into our modern practice. However, there are many lessons we can apply, teaching us how to better treat others, our planet and ourselves. The values of deep contemplation and dedication are all still relevant a millennium and a half after the recording.

Purchase your copy of The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali here.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page