Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga 2017-10-12T13:49:04+00:00

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:


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.