Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

You may be familiar with asanas (physical postures) and pranayama (breath work), but these are only two of the “eight limbs of yoga” as outlined by the Indian sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Meditation, compassion, and other concepts and practices of yoga can be applied in the holistic model of healing the pelvis and general wellness.

The first two “limbs,” yamas and niyamas set the stage with guidelines for ethical living:

Yamas

Ahimsa Nonviolence, compassion, love, understanding, patience, self worth, worthiness
Aparigraha Nonattachment to possessions and relationships
Asteya Self-sufficiency; letting go of cravings
Brahmacharya Management of sensual cravings
Satya Refrain from all acts of dishonesty

Niyamas

Santosha Contentment
Swadhyaya Self-study
Saucha Purity in thought and action
Tapas Discipline
Ishvar-pranidhana Faith and dedication

Asana

Asana are the physical postures. Yoga postures are used to balance the energy in your body and prepare the body and mind for meditation.

Dharana

Concentration exercises to focus and still the mind. The use of drishti, or specific eye focal point, is an example of the practice of dharana.

Dhyana

Meditation is an example of dhyana, or exercises that give experiences of absorption or dissolution.

Pranayama

Pranayama are breath exercises to control or enhance prana (life force) for increased vitality, breath retention or extension, and chanting.

Pratyahara

Pratyahara is an exercise that generates a strong sense of introversion or withdrawal of the senses. We experience this during Shivasana at the end of class. First there is a physical letting go (muscles relaxing, physiological quieting). This is followed by experiencing the mental space of being aware of what is going on around you but simultaneously being seperate.

Samadhi

This is the state of nonduality that we are hoping to achieve. Merging the higher self with the infinite through deep meditation where the seer and seen are one.