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A Beginner’s Guide to 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is one of the most advanced forms of yoga. Where other yoga styles primarily focus on physical movement, the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga cover all the dimensions of human life. Every limb offers a deeper insight into your life. Moreover, they even give direction and a purpose to your life.

8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga lead to liberation from suffering in life. Practicing and mastering each limb helps you move one step closer to your goal in life. Over time, it leads to spiritual enlightenment. Let us have a glimpse of 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga. Read on.

8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

Yama

It is one of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga that deals with restraint and moral discipline. These are concerned with the world around you. So, it helps you live a simple life.

Yamas are not effected by time or place . They are prevalent in every space and time. Therefore, practicing Yama means you are on the right path to becoming a better version of yourself.

Yama limb has further 5 elements. They are:

Ahimsa: The art of non-violence

Satya: Being true all the time

Asteya: Non-stealing

Brahmacharya: Using your energy in the right way

Aparigraha: Practicing non-greed

Niyama

This deals with positive duties or observances that a yoga practitioner has towards oneself and the world or society around him or her. The word ‘Ni’ in Niyama comes from Sanskrit that means inward or within.

Niyama is one of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga for practitioners who wish to level up their yogic practice.

It has the following 5 types:

Saucha

It talks about cleanliness and purity of mind, body, and soul.

Santosha

Being content comes under this Niyama

Tapas

Practicing discipline or having a burning desire to practice yoga or do anything in life.

Svadhyaya

Self-study or self-reflection comes under this Niyama

Isvarapranidaha

This deals with the surrender to the higher or divine power.

Asana

The art of physical postures comes under the limb of Asana. This is the third of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga which leads to liberation. Even though Asana has different varieties of postures. However, it has a deeper meaning attached to it.

Practicing Asana prepares you to sit in a posture to practice meditation for longer hours. Usually, ancient yoga texts like Hatha Yoga Pradipika dictate the Lotus pose and Hero pose are good for meditation.

However, that is not completely true in itself. Rather, there are countless yoga poses which you can practice while doing meditation. It is possible because of the presence of numerous types of meditation practices.

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Pranayama

The art of mindful or conscious breathing is known as Pranayama. Prana means life force that is flowing in your body. Practicing Pranayama helps you channel that energy within your body.

In short, you get access to the infinite abundance which helps you dive deep into intense yogic practices. Be it physical asanas or meditation, energy is required.

Prana-yama means control of breath that gives you freedom of breath. Hence, it is one of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga that brings you into the realm of spirit that helps you align the mind with the soul.

Pratyahara

Pratyahara is made up of two words, Pratya & hara. The word Pratya means to withdraw or withdraw in and hara means to take in. Whenever you are living your life, whether or not you are practicing yoga, your senses are continuously taking in every element from the surrounding.

However, when you practice meditation, you consciously withdraw to bring your mind under your control. Practicing Pratyahara means to consciously switch off the senses that help you stay in a particular sense.

Dharana

Focused concentration is a major concern when you practice this limb of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga. Dha means holding your attention over a single element.

It could be meditation practice, physical asanas practice, or being mindful. For this practice, you can use a lighted candle to watch the flame of the candle.

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Dhyana

It is one of the most important 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga which helps you master the mental dimension. You learn how to calm down your mind.

Moreover, practicing Dhyana helps you get in touch with your inner being. Not just that, you become aware of how to stop thoughts about unwanted things in life.

Samadhi

It is the final step that takes you towards enlightenment. When you reach this stage, you become free from all emotions, feelings, and fears. You embrace each moment without thinking about what is going to be the next move.

Sum Up

The art of 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga helps you have a perfect life. In short, you become physically strong, mentally calm, and spiritually enlightened. Hence, you live the life you wished for with the practice of 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga.

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