8 Limbs of Yoga – Uncovering the Core Principles of Life

Words: Yana Fry


The workshop which was held at Real Yoga was on eight limbs of yoga and the secret to happy relationships.

For 1.5 hours, this interactive workshop was fantastic to show the connection of the eight limbs of yoga to our life. As how it is a solid foundation to yoga, understanding and correlating it to how our live are shaped was interesting to see. An all-girls only workshop, it was no surprise we talk about boys! But more importantly, this workshop was about self-improvement for me. It was an afternoon of such deep reflection, thoughts and left me with alot of questions, answers and actions i will do to better myself and my relationship - be it with my family, my significant other and other people we come into contact with. As a Yoga practitioner myself, I know the knowledge on the eight limbs of yoga is something you know well but not all could be synergise in a way you want. Well, maybe it might take some time to get everything in align. But today's workshop got me thinking that our yoga physical practice is no more superior than the non-physical part of yoga. I like how this workshop create that connection to our daily life and how seeking a better world must and only could start from ourself. While the eight limbs of yoga has many interpretation that you could mean, this workshop focuses on personal development and awareness to our own thoughts, emotions and physical actions.

I shall share with you some nuggets of what i took away from the workshop and i hope you can use these learnings to provide you with some directions and answers to how to achieve more happiness to your life. Namaste.

Eight Limbs of Yoga:

1) Yama Yama has to do with ethics, integrity and how we practice yoga off our mat. The 5 yamas are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-hoarding. Yana mentioned about how such ethical conduct/self-constraint should be something we direct to our own self. When we dislike part of our body, our personality or our behaviours to others, do we blame ourself? do we have self-doubt? do we belittle our self? do we pressure our minds with negativity? If so, this is one act of violence to ourself. so, we got to take a chill pill sometimes and reflect the goodness in ourself.

Ask yourself: "I am good enough because ____________________________"

2) Niyama Niyama has to do with personal observance of purity and devotion. How much devotion do we give to ourself? Everything that we do, how much do we dedicate our days to spending and knowing ourself. We have to realise that creating a positive energy or lifes around us, starts with creating that positive energy in us. So, in a simple exercise at this workshop, we were asked to:

Write 3 things that you need to do in the next 3 months to create more happiness for YOU.

3) Asana Asana is the physical posture and this is the limb that most of us in the west are strongest at. It's through asana that we dissolve tensions, build strength, eliminate toxins, increase mobility and circulation. Sometimes a physical practice need not be a goal for a better body shape etc but more like how a physical practice helps you to create better mental health. I get this, i love yoga because it gives me an escape but i hate running though at times running gives me the calmness and organise my thoughts better.

Make a physical activity plan each week and stick to it. 

4) Pranayama Pranayama is breath control. Did you notice the last time you got frustrated, angry, scared or anxiety ridden what happened to your breath? It probably became restricted, choppy and erratic. "Breath control leads to mind control" and if we want to really be healthy then our mind must be in state of peace.

Sometimes the only self control you need is deep breaths. Try 24 deep breathing (inhale - tummy out - exhale - tummy in) in the morning or before bed. 

5) Pratyahara Pratyahara is the abstraction of all 5 senses. Our whole lives the 5 senses (touch, taste, see, hear, and smell) are inputing information into our being and pratyahara is where we turns those off so that we may turn from the outer world and experience the inner domain of the mind. You are NOT your senses. Senses are your messengers. For a happier relationship - be it with yourself or others - know that clear communication is the foundation. Until mind reading is established, communicate honestly and clearly to others.

Ask yourself, what would you like to communicate to people around you? Reflect on what is it you would like to communicate and bring into the relationship. Is it openness? Laughter? Joy? Tell them.

6) Dharana Dharana is concentration. Concentrating is like a muscle on the body, the more you use it the stronger it becomes. In many relationships, being present and being in the NOW is paramount. Remember those times you eat dinner with your loved ones but your eyes are on your blackberry, mind in the email and emotions unaware of what is infront of you?

Make this mantra where whoever you are spending time with, be in the present and tell the world to wait because you are creating a happy meaningful moment with the significant other. When the mind wonders off just easily bring it back to the mantra.

7) Dhyana Dhyana is meditation or total absorption into the object upon that which is being focused on. In dhyana we dissolve separateness and experience the deep river of peace.

Meditation helps you manage your thoughts. Spend a few minutes each day to meditate. Bring silence and peace to a small time of your day. 

8) Samadhi Samadhi is blissful awareness. Be it whatever path you are on, different people has different paths but all wanting to reach the same goal. Just know that you, as an individual, are already having the power to make yoruself the best version of you and the happiest of you.

Biggest takeaway: A man's job is not to make you happy but rather happier. 

TWR Team: Take this time to reflect on the 8 points and how you can interact better with yourself and others around you. We believe that for change to happen it has to start from us first.