Often people come to yoga because they look for more flexibility or core strengths through yoga postures, or the meditative aspect might seem appealing to them. But yoga is much more than that! The eight limbs of yoga are a guide for any yogi and yogini how to conduct their lives.
The eight limbs are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana,and Samadhi.
The Yamas give us moral, ethical as well as spiritual guidelines aiming to achieve a healthy and balanced life which will help us finding our spiritual path. They teach us about non-violence, but compassion; a commitment to express ourselves truthfully and in a caring way. We can also learn about “non-stealing” or not desiring what someone else has, but being grateful for what we have. To find vitality and energy we should learn to control our senses. And lastly, to be truly “free” we must stop hoarding or collecting, instead we learn to simply trust that we have everything we really need.
While the Yamas teach us about the attitudes toward our environment, the Niyamas give us advice on how to manage or to look after ourselves. Here we explore now more deeply our personal growth. Purity and cleanliness of the body and the mind are one step on our journey. Santosa (one of the Niyamas) means contentment and acceptance, which allows us then to find tranquillity and peace in our hearts and minds. To be able to achieve our goals we also need perseverance and persistence while trusting ourselves and a higher energy. The ability to turn inwards and to self-reflect as well as to learn more about ourselves is just another step on our path. And finally, once we have surrendered and emptied our minds of personal gratification we will be able to find trust in a higher power.