July 3, 2020 3 min to read
10 ways the 8 limbs of yoga can improve your life
The 8 limbs of yoga.
Think of them like the yogi’s Ten Commandments, with a little less commanding.
The 8 limbs are a guide to living a wholesome, healthy, and meaningful life.
One limb complementing the next, helping practitioners on their yogic journey.
The great sage Patanjali developed the limbs centuries ago in the Yoga Sutras. He laid them out like a map to help chart a course to contentment.
Yoga, after all, is not just about meditation and asanas but also, just as importantly, behavior and attitude.
The limbs provide ingredients to a recipe that helps live in the world with ease. Let’s break down the 8 limbs of yoga and see how they can help us achieve true peace and happiness right now.
1. They Teach You To Lead A Good Life
The first limb, Yama, refers to discipline and restraint. But that doesn’t mean that you gotta live a life of suffocating discipline.
There are five Yamas: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (the control of one’s sexuality), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
Ever wonder why there are so many vegetarian yogis? Because of Ahimsa. Ever notice how dedicated yogis often have very few material possessions? It’s because of Aparigraha.
You too can practice non-violence, not only by not hurting other people but also by not hurting anything at all (even with your words). Speak the truth, don’t let lust control your emotions, and take only what’s yours.
By engaging in this practice, we allow the flow of love, empathy, and compassion for others into our hearts.
2. They Teach You To Be Happy Where You Are
The second limb, Niyama, is a concept of introspection and inwardness. It means taking account of your own actions, observing your thoughts, and adhering to positive standards you have set for yourself.
The five Niyamas are Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline or desire), Svadhyaya (self-reflection), and Isvarapranidaha (trust in a higher power).
Remain committed to your own cleanliness, both literally and figuratively. Recognize all that is good and worthy in your life and stay disciplined in your practice.
By staying committed to this continual self-reflection, both on and off the mat, you’ll never lose sight of the fact that your life is pretty damn good just as it is (hardships included).
3. They Teach You How To Focus
The third limb, Asana or the physical, the aspect of yoga we seem obsessed in the West. And yet, the word Asana doesn’t refer to the practitioner’s ability to perform King Pigeon or a headstand, it refers to the seat or the posture you take when meditating.
While a moving asana practice certainly isn’t very still, it moves the blood throughout your body so that it can (you guessed it) sit still and focus.
So you don’t need to prove to yourself or anyone else that you’re able to twist into contortions or hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.
Instead, think of asana as a way to prepare both your body and mind for a focus-filled day.
4. They Teach You How To Calm Down
The fourth limb, Pranayama, is the breath, the energy, the life force. Prana is the energy that surrounds us and the life that breath feeds us. And it can have a profound effect on our brains.
Practicing breathing is a great way to relieve stress both on and off your mat. There is never a moment when you cannot connect to your breath to find calmness…
Continue reading the article and learn more about yoga on Life Is An Episode website.