The ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’

Modern Yoga - Traditional roots

Mindflowyoga has its basis in The 8 limb path and places the philosophical aspects into a modern day context.
Mindflowyoga combines the powerful asana and energetic practices of yoga. The course integrates strong, detailed asana work and places it into the context of anatomy and physiology and yoga philosophy. The teaching enphasises a depth of understanding of each posture with the accepted yoga philosophical framework. This up to date teaching methodology allows you to become the well quaified yoga teacher you knew was inside you.

In Simple terms

The 8 limbed or Raja yoga, also referred to as Ashtanga yoga (literally ‘eight steps’) is so called because of its organisation into eight parts that are used towards the path of self-discipline. The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras set the written framework of the eight-step structure. A major note is that the eight limbs are not set in an elevated or rigid hierarchical form, but are part of a holistic process. Because of the individuality and uniqueness of each person, the eight limbs are structured so one can focus on a single branch to one’s own satisfaction before moving on, to continue the path towards greater understanding.

Click on the limb name for more information.
The eight limbs are as follows:


Yama(s) is the Sanskrit word meaning ‘restraint’, ‘reign’, ‘control’ particularly with regards to action, words or thought that may cause harm.
The Yamas are further broken down into five ‘characteristics’:

  • Ahimsa.
  • Satya.
  • Asteya.
  • Brahmacharya.
  • Aparigraha.


The second limb, Niyama (Sanksrit for ‘positive duty/observance’), is the branch concerning self-discipline and personal observance The Niyama may be broken down again into five ‘characteristics’:

  • Saucha.
  • Santosha.
  • Tapas.
  • Svadhyaya.
  • Isvarapranidhana.


Asana (Sanskrit for ‘to sit’ or ‘seat’) refers to both the place in which the practitioner sits, and the posture which is employed. Asanas are also typically used as physical exercises that are regularly referred to as ‘postures’ in modern terminology. As such, Asanas are the best-known aspect of yoga today.


Pranayama (Sanskrit ‘prana’ – life force, to breath + ‘ayama’ – extend, stretching) is a composite word that, within yoga, means breathing control. This fourth branch aims to master the respiratory processes of the body, whilst also recognising the connections between breathing, mind, body and emotions.


Pratyahara (Sanskrit ‘prati’ – away, against + ‘ahara’ – ingest) is the fifth limb concerned with sensory withdrawal.


Dharana (Sanskrit – literally ‘act of holding’) is the ‘concentration of the mind’. Where pratyahara is to relieve the mind of outside distractions, this allows the opportunity to begin focusing on distractions of the mind itself.


Dhyana (Sanskrit of ‘thought’ or ‘meditation’) is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that it is the state of being ultimately aware, but without focus.


Samadhi (Sanskrit ‘putting together’) is the final step in the Ashtanga. In this final stage, the body and mind are in a state of complete rest, yet are intensely alert.