The Eight Limbs of Yoga…… the missing keys to finding true yogic strength, power, and transformation, on and off the mat.
Long before the West embraced asana classes, yoga infiltrated culture in a much bigger, deeper way, providing practitioners with a fundamental philosophy for how to make their way through the world.
In the Yoga Sutra, a seminal collection of texts written between the second century BCE and fifth century CE, philosophers outline an eight-limbed, step-by-step path for purifying the body and mind. The ultimate goal: to help practitioners cultivate a steady mind, leading to calm bliss.
The first two stops on the path, even before the physical postures called asana, are ethical principles that are supposed to guide how we relate to other people and how we take care of ourselves. They’re called the yamas (social restraints) and the niyamas (self-disciplines).
The benefits of paying attention to the yamas and niyamas may not be as instantly gratifying as a good asana class, but they can be deep and long lasting. Contemplating them can shine the light of awareness on parts of ourselves that we don’t always notice, and help us live in a way that doesn’t cause harm, which in turn allows for less regret and a more peaceful mind.
….chitta vritti nirodha – if you still the fluctuations (Vrittis) of the mind – that is, all the repetitive, whirling thoughts, desires, analysis and judgments, you are in yoga.