April 3, 2021

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

These are the eight physical practices that have their roots in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The first limb is Yama (restraint), the second is Niyama (observance of purity, purity in body, mind, speech and intellect), the third is Asana (sitting or posture), the fourth is Pranayama (breathing practices), the fifth is Pratyahara(withdrawal of the sense of sight), the sixth is Dharana (concentration), the seventh is Dhyana (meditation) and the eighth is Samadhi (concordance).

Below is a Prezi Presentation on the 8 Limbs. This is an interactive presentation (interactive when on a desktop, laptop, or ipad) with a video on the Dhyana slide (for smartphone users the video is below the transcript for viewing). With this presentation you can click anywhere at anytime; this is not a linear power-point meaning you are free to go out of order. If you need to return ‘home’ or go ‘back’ hover to the right and the home and go back icon will appear to present these options. Enjoy learning about the 8 limbs of yoga bought to you by Strategic Arts & Wellness via Prezi Presentation.


The 8 Limbs of Yoga

Dr. David Gramling PhD

Overview of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

The eight limbas or aspects of Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, pratyahara, pranayama, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi.

Overview Continued

The eight limbs of Yoga is a framework that developed over thousands of years that can be used to understand the nature of consciousness, yours and others. When the Eight Limbs are studied in depth, you realize that there can never be a “spiritual bypass” to life, because there is really nothing between us and reality.

This understanding takes place at the level of our deepest awareness.

These are the eight physical practices that have their roots in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The first limb is Yama (restraint), the second is Niyama (observance of purity, purity in body, mind, speech and intellect), the third is Asana (sitting or posture), the fourth is Pranayama (breathing practices), the fifth is Pratyahara(withdrawal of the sense of sight), the sixth is Dharana (concentration), the seventh is Dhyana (meditation) and the eighth is Samadhi (concordance).

Achieving peace through quiet and still meditation


Yama, is considered the “abstinence” branch of yoga. Yama deals with ethical behavior and moral conduct. Living an ethical life is one of the most important things you can do in order to live successfully.

Yama Continued

Holding onto four moral rules, the yamas, are in fact the first limbs of Yoga. The yamas are the key to a full and rewarding life on the path of Yoga; they set us up for all forms of Yoga and meditation. They deal with our relationship to others: how we behave towards them, how we think about them, and how we feel towards them.


Niyama is one of the fundamental limbs of Yoga, referred to as the second limb. The first is yama, observations or restraints that govern how we interact with the world around us. And the third and fourth limbs are actually a single work, called Asanas, which means postures. It’s a description of movement.

Niyama Continued

This second of the 8 limbs of yoga, niyama, or rules for living, might be best thought of as a kind of checklist. The items on the list are things you can do to help yourself reach your natural state. They are precepts or practices you can learn to embody that allow you too live more in harmony with your natural state.

Open for awareness and self-observation


Hatha is the third out of the eight limbs of yoga. In Patanjali’s list, hatha precedes asana and comes after pranayama. Hatha means physical movement or force and refers to the techniques used in asana practice and also includes breath control.

Hatha Continued

Hatha: The third limb of yoga is called hatha yoga (sometimes raja yoga, the yoga of meditation). It involves eight different sets of physical poses, each connected with a chakra.

The third limb of yoga is about mastering the body through the physical postures known as hatha yoga.


There are eight limbs of yoga. The first three steps relate to self-control, the next three to mental discipline, and the last three require physical exertion.

The fourth limb is about conscious breathing techniques. Pranayama means controlling the prana (or life force) through breathing. These techniques keep you focused, calm and alert.

Pranayama Continued

The fourth limb is pranayama. Prana means life force, so ‘life force control’ or ‘breath control’ are good translations of pranayama. Pranayama is the process of controlling yourself by controlling your breath. You could also think of it as controlling yourself by controlling your energy or spirit, and you shouldn’t think that the word ‘spirit’ is being used in a religious sense here. Some people translate pranayama as ‘breathing exercise

Breathing while inverted; relaxing energy and tranquility


The 5th Limb of the 8 Limbs is Pratyahara. Pratyahara is derived from the word prati and ahara which mean ‘to bring towards’ and ‘food’. Pratyahara therefore means turning away from sense objects; or withdrawing the senses. More specifically, it is a process by which we withdraw our attention from the region of the senses leaving the mind free to be occupied with thoughts higher than sense perception.

Pratyahara Continued

The fifth limb is Pratyahara. The 5th Limb is the withdrawal of the senses. Practicing Pratyahara allows us to control the senses rather then our senses controlling us.

Pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga, gets translated as ‘sense withdrawal.’ * An example of it would be hearing a noise, finding out the noise is connected to some kind of stimulus (seeing fireworks), and then finding that through continued training, you can stop the stimulus from causing you to react.


One type of concentration is called dharana. It is the ability to center your mind and focus it. Dharana is a very important skill in yoga because it leads to other limbs: dhyana, Samadhi, and yoga.

Dharana Continued

Dharana – Concentration or meditation. The sixth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Dharana is one-pointed concentration on a single object. For example, a person may turn their attention to their breath, a religious icon, or​ the image of a deity in order to develop concentration.


In the Yoga tradition, dhyana is the seventh limb. It follows the first six limbs, which are yamas and niyamas, as well as asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, and dharana. In classical Yoga texts like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras , dhyana comes after these other practices because it requires a foundation of sankhata samadhi, or object-based meditation.

Dhyana sometimes known as meditation it goes beyond relaxation and mindfulness. Though these are positive aspects of meditation, dhyana is much more demanding (the word means to think deeply on something) and requires a focused mind that is able to concentrate on a single thought or object without interruption.

Dhyana Continued

Meditation is a part of the seventh limb dhyana, which is a very important part of yoga but overlaps with other spiritual disciplines as well. Dhyana meditation practice is how you learn to empty your mind of all thought and how to stop being distracted by inner dialogue so you can achieve the state of bliss consciousness and meditation without thought.


What is Dhyana?

What is Dhyana? Transcript

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patañjelli, the seventh limb of yoga is dhyana (meditation).

Dhyana is the ability to remain in the present. Most of us do not know what the present is, although there are various definitions. It can be said to be the same moment that is always present. It can be assumed to be the place where you are now. It can be also be considered the person standing behind you.

Dhyana is often translated as meditation, but that’s only part of its meaning. Dhyana is one of the first steps in Yoga, and refers to a deep level of concentration. When your mind has become still, dhyana is when you begin to watch the workings of your mind, your thoughts and memories. You can think about these patterns, discover how they work and learn what to do with them.


The Eighth limb of Yoga is Samadhi. It is also known as the “ecstasy of union”. Each of the 7 limbs has an intellectual component and a physical component. The intellectual component in essence describes how to approach the physical practice associated with that limb.

Samadhi Continued

Yoga is a set of tools for transformation. One of these tools is named samadhi . Samadhi is the intense focus of the mind on a single object, thought or activity such that everything else seems to fall away. When you practice yoga , even if you’re doing asana , the final goal is samprajanya — clarity and awareness; freedom from suffering; and right action –> samadhi.

One with the breath and feeling whole

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.