What is Yoga & the 8 limbs?

What is Yoga & the 8 limbs?

Yoga is about finding balance.  Finding a balance in your life.  Yoga literally means “to yoke,” translated into today’s term it means “to union.”  Yoga’s foundation is about creating a union between your mind, body, and spirit.  Just know that our “yogic/blissful/balanced/unionized state” already lives inside of us, yes even you!  The components of yoga (physical, mental, and spiritual) help us find this internal state. I will go into more detail about the foundations of yoga in later blog posts.

The 8 limbs of yoga

Yoga’s basic principles are founded on the 8 limbs.  These are essentially the various ways that help us find our “true north” or our “real self.” Think of the 8 limbs as a roadmap to yoga-land! Do not think of these limbs as a “to-do” list or a “check list.” These components of yoga help us become better humans, not only to each other, but also to ourselves.

The 8 limbs of yoga are:

  • Yama
  • Niyama
  • Asana
  • Pranayama
  • Pratyahara
  • Dharana
  • Dhyana
  • Samadhi

I know these all may look foreign to you now, but have no fear- soon you will be a pro at each of these!

This blog post will focus on the first Yama.  The Yama’s have 5 different components.  The Yama’s deal with ethical standards and senses of integrity.  They focus on our behavior and how we should behave out in the world!


The first subcategory of the Yama’s is Ahimsa.

Ahimsa means “non-violence.”  It seems pretty straight forward, right? Don’t practice violence!  Let’s go a little deeper though, when we are on our mat in a never ending chair pose, do we beat ourselves up with our words?  Or maybe our neighbor on the mat is standing on their head and you are unable to even place weight on your wrist, do you beat yourself up?  Maybe you are in the grocery store and someone cuts you in line- do you beat them up with your words?  Practicing Ahimsa is super important to practice (hence it is #1 on the list) not only to others, but also to ourselves.  Next time you notice yourself beating yourself up with words, notice it, breathe, and change the approach.

We come onto our yoga mats and practice putting ourselves in these awkward positions to practice various components.  This week, when you are on your mat, notice the words you tell yourself in your not so-favorite poses.  If you start speaking negatively, notice it, acknowledge it, breathe, and change the approach.

Remember, words become actions, actions become habits, and habits become who we are.  In the yogic world, we call this karma.

Come play with me! I will now be teaching vinyasa flow and advanced vinyasa flow at a local Atlanta studio on Thursdays!

See you on the mat soon!







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