As laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is an 8-limbed philosophy, the sum of which constitutes what Patanjali details as ‘Ashtanga Yoga’. These 8 limbs are guidelines in the direction of exactly what we’d contemporarily deem as a Yogic Lifestyle. The ultimate aim and final limb while doing so is Samadhi, even more frequently referred to as Knowledge.


Patanjali composes that Samadhi is just attainable by dedicating to the 7 other important limbs, resolving them as a procedure, finally Samadhi is the completion, nearly like a benefit.

Now, I’ve no idea about you however going through life with 8 limbs seems like a great deal of hassle to me. Yes, it would’ve its advantages, but really, how difficult would it be to purchase clothes?

The 8 limbs in yoga is a sought-after way of living, so each limb needs to be an addition to the previous one as you develop your method towards Samadhi. We do not have time or word-count to discuss each limb in all its glory but just to whet your hunger a little, let us have a glance at just a couple.

The very first limb is the Yamas. Yes yamas. As in plural, more than one. 5 in reality. These outline the 5 abstentions such as non-violence, truth, non-possessiveness and so on. The 2nd limb is the Niyamas, which are the five observances such as cleanliness, satisfaction, austerity and so on.

When I was first finding out about Patanjali and the 8 limbs, I was reluctant to take it all in. It was interesting, yes. However in the back of my mind there was a voice stating ‘following orders relating to ways to live your life from a book? Something stinks of RELIGION.’I’d not identify myself as an atheist at all, but having being brought up in no specific faith, when somebody points out faith, I’ve the tendency to run in the opposite direction, well at least walk. Kinda apathetically. Nevertheless, the slightly more dominant voice at the front of my head spoke a little louder this time, I am not quite sure what it was saying, but there was something various about these limbs, especially the niyamas. Then I learned what separated Patanjali’s guidelines from state, the 10 commandments.

It’s the same idea which dominates yoga and deems it a spiritual scientific practice, in contrast to a religious method, these treatments were about making commitments to yourself, to building a lifestyle to which you were just recognizing yourself. You’re solutioning to no-one, especially not any sort of greater deity, you never ask any individual for mercy or answers. The answers are currently there, because these acts happen within you. The Niyamas are about observing your very own discipline and individual susceptibility in the direction of who you are, and being real to that nature in light of a yogic lifestyle.

The other limbs are a bit more extensively known, as they fit somewhat more into the modern-day idea of Yoga. They include Pranayama, which is control of the breath, Asana: discipline of the body, and Pratyahara, Dhyana and Dharana, the very first couple of stages of meditation and concentration. Patanjali described that unless you’re living by the yamas, niyamas, practicing asana and pranayama, you can not begin the reflection procedure.

The modern idea of meditation would say different. Any directed meditation tape you pay attention to, you know the type’you’re strolling with a meadow/desert/insert perfect location here’, are excellent for relaxation. However Patanjali and such successors would declare this isn’t meditation. Meditation (in yoga)is the outcome of a practice developed through understanding, experience, commitment and determination. The objective, or the 8th and last limb is Samadhi, knowledge or happiness. This is called oneness with reflection, where there’s no division between the act of reflection, and the object of reflection.

An effort at living by these 8 limbs can teach us not just who we can end up being, however also about who we are. As a rather impatient person, I constantly wrote this way of living off, believing ‘I can not wait that long for Samadhi! Too much effort, I give up.’But just from this realisation I’ve currently done myself a world of great, I’ve actually noted my technique to jobs, I’ve acknowledged that I should not give up so easily, I must be figured out and resolute in my practice and each challenge. It’s that old chestnut:’fake it till you make it’, simply TRY to live this way, and you may find you like it. Simply tell yourself to not quit so easily, and it could just work. And by George, I believe it has.

So dealing with 8 limbs may seem like a huge complicated job, however it can actually just become you. And even if it does not become your way of life, it can tell you a lot about who you are, you can learn. And who doesn’t wish to constantly learn about themselves? Particularly in yoga where there are no commitments to pray to higher entities, but you do have a commitment to yourself, to find out about yourself and to enjoy yourself.

So try it! It will not be simple, 8 limbs are effort, but hey, Vishnu did it, and he also had 10 avatars to keep afloat. How hard can it be?

Jessie Blackledge is yoga teacher based in Birmingham, UK. She’s certified in ashtanga and hatha yoga as well as pranayama, reflection and chanting. Jessie’s courses mix ashtanga and hatha yoga, including the breath into a series of healing postures to create a meditation in motion.