The Eight Limbs of Yoga – Is it Really an Eight Year Plan?

A friend of mine says she attempts to conquer one of the eight limbs of yoga every year. I think it’s wonderful and highly admirable but I’m not sure I have the patience (perhaps that’s the problem). Eight years to get it right?? Does it really take a year to understand and implement each limb? If we get it right in 6 months can we skip on to the next one? On the other hand maybe she’s on to something. Think of it this way, 8 years over the average lifetime (which in the States is 78.8 years) is really not that long, in fact to learn to live like a yogi and find enlightenment in eight years probably means you’re spiritually turbo charged. Think about it – how many people do you know who’s achieved this state?

Let’s take a look at the limbs:

  1. Yamas. Turns out this is a bit of a tease. It’s not actually one thing, it’s five (does that mean another year for each of those as well?) These are a set of restraints, a sort of Yogic code for good behaviour and although they’re excellent guidelines for living, they’re not exactly a snap to implement on a consistent basis. Here we go: 1. Ahisma (non harming), 2. Staya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation), Aparigraha (non-hoarding).
  2. Niyamas. Guess what – there’s five of these too. These are observances, simple, straightforward but not easy. 1. Soucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Svadyaya (self-study), Ishvarapranidhana (surrender).
  3. Asana. Number three on the hit parade is the actual physical aspect of yoga (I wonder how many people knew that).
  4. Pranayama. The importance of breath. Just out of interest, how many times a day do you find yourself holding your breath?
  5. Pratyahara. Withdrawal of the senses. In other words stopping the mindless mental chatter, so when you’re in yoga class try not to mentally write a to do list.
  6. Dharana. Intense focus. In other words “no multi tasking.”
  7. Dhyana. State of Meditation. Tricky. Let it all go and just be.
  8. Samadhi. State of Oneness. Absolutely blissed out.

How’s your journey going? What do you think, eight years or a lifetime?


2 thoughts on “The Eight Limbs of Yoga – Is it Really an Eight Year Plan?

  1. Selene Hoey

    Hi Mary, just found your site, it’s lovely. I love the posts you’re writing. Informative and to the point plus lovely written. Great for a practicing mum of two small ones 😀
    Thank you again and I hope you are well


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