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The Eight Limbs

Updated: Apr 15

"Through the practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the distortions of individual perception are destroyed and the light of true wisdom brings clarity of consciousness"

Sutra ii.28

Over 2000 years ago, the sage Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, which captured the oral tradition of yoga transmitted from Yoga Teacher to Student. There are many translations and commentaries to help us understand the Yoga Sutras and the Eight Limbs of Yoga described within it. Three of our favorites at Dharmachakra Yoga School are the translation by Nischala Joy Devi The Secret Power of Yoga and Jennie Lee’s enlightening commentary True Yoga and Deborah Adele's The Yamas and Niyamas.

Yoga Sutra study is reading the map and practicing the Eight Limbs, also called the Eight Faceted Path, is following the path towards the transformative power of the ancient science of yoga.

Jennie Lee explains the Eight Limbs, laying the foundation for her book, True Yoga:

"The Yamas instruct us to align more completely with our soul nature.The Niyamas give us further practices to integrate our material and spiritual lives. All of these practices have both an internal and an external expression, initiating in our thoughts and inner experience of the world, and then radiating through our words and actions into our outer world. The Limbs 3-8 are the deeper ways to address health, energy management, concentration, and finally Self-realization and enlightenment."

The following excerpts from The Yoga Sutras teach the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the Eight Faceted Path. These are from Nischala Joy Devi’s translation, The Secret Power of Yoga. ( Every translation uses the same book and sutra numbers if you wish to refer to another. The first part indicates which section i-iv, and the number is the sutra within that section.) Use the sutra numbers below to learn more about the 8 Limbs from the source.

At Dharmachakra Yoga School, we offer study of the Eight Limbs of Yoga in the classes we teach, in our 200 and 300 Hour Trainings and now in a series of four workshops offered by Nancy Kearon and called The Secret Power of True Yoga. These workshops are for those who wish to understand why yoga practices help them feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. Come join us and let us support you in your practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Why? Here are two reasons from the Yoga Sutras.

Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. Sutra i.2

United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature-joy.

Sutra i.3

The Eight Limbs:

Limb One: The Yamas: External Disciplines Sutras ii.35-39

Ahimsa, Satya, Astheya,

Bramacharya, Aparigraha

Limb Two: The Niyamas Internal Disciplines Sutras ii.40-ii.45

Sauca, Santosha, Tapas,

Swadhyaya, Iswara Pranidhana

Limb Three: Asana Practice of the Postures Sutras ii.46-48

Limb Four: Pranayama Enhancement of Prana ( Energy) Sutras ii.49-ii.53

Limb Five: Pratyahara Encouraging Senses to draw within Sutras ii.54-ii.55

Limb Six: Dharana Concentration Sutra iii.1

Limb Seven: Dhyana Meditation Sutra iii.2

Limb Eight: Samadhi Union, Consciousness Sutra iii.3

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