The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 3:42PM

yoga studio Ormond Beach


For many people the word “yoga” brings to mind the image of a yoga model that appears on the cover of a yoga magazine in a pose that is almost impossible to get into for the average student. This image stoops most people from stepping foot into a yoga studio because they think this is what its all about! Yoga is commonly used to improve strength and flexibility, help ease stress, or heal from an injury. What most people do not know is that the true meaning and purpose of yoga is “the ability to control the fluctuations of the mind”, or “yoga chitta vritti nirodha”.

This brief and simple definition was provided to us by Sage Patanjali, more than three thousand years ago, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I often read the sutras to my students in my classes at Lotus Yoga in Ormond Beach because they help to explain the philosophy of the yoga practice as a whole. “Ashtanga yoga”, which is the style of yoga I am trained in, is described in the Yoga Sutras as the “Eight Limbs of Yoga”. These are eight “guidelines” of a yoga practice to help a student learn to quiet the mind.

Most of the mainstream yoga classes students attend today includes physical postures (asanas) and some breathing techniques (pranayama). But there is so much more to to yoga than these two practices. The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

  1. Yamas- how we treat others
  2. Niyamas- how we treat ourselves
  3. Asana- the physical postures
  4. Pranayama- breath control
  5. Pratyahara- Sense withdrawal
  6. Dharana- concentration/ focus
  7. Dhyana- Meditation
  8. Samadhi- Enlighntenment

As you can see, asana and pranayama are only two of these eight limbs, and usually that’s all students practice in a regular yoga class or are even mentioned by a teacher. In order to experience the true goal of yoga (quieting the mind) one must practice all Eight limbs to help establish a strong foundation toward achieving the real objectives of yoga.

The physical practice of yoga is fun and makes us feel good, but there is so much more to the practice of yoga than the asanas. I encourage you to do some self studying of the Yoga Sutras, or ask me any questions you have about them when you come to class.


At Lotus Yoga and Fitness in Ormond Beach, I practice and teach all eight limbs. I am here to help guide you in a practice that will strengthen your body, mind AND spirit. My goal when you walk through the door is to help quiet the chatter in your mind, and help you feel the effects of your practice when you leave class, so you can take your practice out into the world and into your relationships with yourself and with others.




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