Chart: 8 Limbs of Yoga

OM window at Omlink Yoga Studio, West Harrison, New York, USA

OM window at Omlink Yoga Studio, West Harrison, New York, USA

patanjalis8limbs-alison-hinks-yogadork.jpg 1,584×1,224 pixels.

Please click the link above to view the chart showing the 8 stages, limbs of hatha yoga as prescribed by Shri Patanjali.  Thanks to Alison Hinks for creating and sharing this vital visual tool for Yoginis and Yogis.  Namaste


171 responses »

  1. I really liked this infographic of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga because it presented something somewhat abstract that many might find hard to understand, in a visually concise and fairly rudimentary way. The chart presented a moral code of ethics or a way to achieve self-discovery and inner peace, with the last two limbs being beneficial consequences of living by these commandments, so to speak. It emphasizes the importance of breathing and focus exercises, meditative practices, and the resisting of harmful activities ill-moral mentalities. I look forward to using this chart as a rubric to help integrate yoga practices into my daily schedule and to remind me to keep doing Isha Kriya chants at the beginning and end of my day. It will also remind me to keep myself in check and to be aware of my body and to treat it well, instead of giving into my various vices.

    -Noah Schmitz

  2. It’s good to be able to see a visual that applies to the physical practices of yoga as when actually in practice one is not seeing these things. It’s helpful in understanding some of the concepts that are more complex and less easy to understand when written out. I feel most people must find more ease in understanding abstract concepts when they are drawn out into a visual so they become less abstract and unattainable. This chart specifically is very well laid out and helpful in further understanding some of the previous posts I’ve read as well.

  3. I found that by displaying the eight limbs of yoga out in a chart made in for an easier understanding. Personally I am a very visual learner so the chart helped me to understand and solidify the concepts better. It was helpful to see each limb broken down by number and what kind of state your body should be in. It also gave some insight with the first two numbers where it explained that Yamas is about restraints and Niyamas is about observances along with providing examples. This was a good visual for some of the previous posts.

    -Emily Bockisch

  4. I didn’t quite understand this chart and how many components to have to do these things. Is it like a everyday practice to reach self-actualization? What I did notice was the position of “withdrawal of the senses:” which is Pratyahara. In the 2 times our class has met, we’ve done this position and now I understand why it is called withdrawal of the senses because when I lay in this position, I feel like I am not even in my body and I feel so at peace with myself and so relaxed.

  5. Seeing a chart of how your yoga practice affects you is very useful. A lot of the time in doing yoga, I give myself an internal map of what to do and when I will meditate. It is equally as nice however, to have something that guides you, telling you what steps to take. I can have faith in the practice without thinking about what I should be doing too much. It also feels like it supports you in a way, having faith that if you concentrate hard, you will achieve meditation and then freedom. It is a rare and new feeling, and it achieves a completely different feeling then I usually have in my yoga practice.

  6. I am a visual person and the chart was really helpful in understanding the 8 limbs of yoga. It is like the steps to reach a goal. It also was helpful because you should understand besides just performing the poses. You will not have the full experience if you just perform the poses and neglect what the poses are trying to accomplish

  7. I appreciate the visual! I am much better able to grasp concepts and ideas when I see them on paper. This visual has helped me understand the progression of the eight limbs. I also appreciate the brief, yet clear, descriptions of the yamas and niyamas. I find it quite interesting how the first six limbs are categorized as “things you do” and that the last two limbs, the state of meditation and the state of oneness, are “things that happen to you”. I always thought of meditation as something that you do, but it makes total sense that it is something that happens to you once you are able to master the other six limbs! I have printed out the chart, and also saved it on my phone, so that I can keep it handy and refer to it often, to remind me of what I am trying to achieve.

  8. Like I mentioned in my comment on the other 8 Limbs post, I was overwhelmed and intimidated when I first saw this chart. I even asked my roommate to help me read it as I tend to shut down my ability to receive information when its presented in a way I’m not familiar with…ie: charts are not my thing 🙂 i wish I would’ve read the comments on this post sooner because reading that others shared my sentiment would’ve alleviated some of that unfamiliarity I found so distracting from the message.

    After reviewing the meanings behind all of the terms in the 8 terms I gained a little bit more of an understanding but still don’t feel truly grounded in my comprehension the way I did with the instructions for the Isha Kriya. Here’s to hoping that spending some time exploring this layout in class will help me clear up some confusion and receive the full benefits of what is displayed. Namaste.

    • There will be a variety of types of information shared for these assignments and hopefully you will be able to find your way to a clearer understanding about classical Indian Hatha Yoga, Namaste

  9. I like to see the visuals of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, it helps me see what I need to and how to do it correctly. As a beginner in yoga, I like that the process is simple and easier to read. The chart helps me see specific steps I can take to help me practice. Dharana was the most difficult for me because it is hard for me to concentrate on something. I am easily distracted and my mind wanders to think other things. Pranamya helps me try to achieve Dharana because since I am focusing on my breath and nothing else, It helps me concentrate on something I control.

  10. Jacob Buckner- It is incredibly helpful to see these visuals of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. I did not completely understand before how one gets to the point of meditation from the beginning poses. I enjoy the idea of having this visual structure to accompany my practice. The process has proven to be difficult for me at first, but with time and ongoing dedication I have felt an understanding which has truly been beneficial to my life and continued practice.

  11. I like the visual, however, I was overwhelmed by the chart. As a beginner “oneness” sounds daunting. Mostly I am trying to focus on ignoring my thoughts and keeping a clear mind. Spending time looking at the 8 steps, I better understood it but I feel I need time and experience to comprehend it. Intense focus is the hardest step for me because I’m not sure what that looks like and what I should be focusing on.

  12. I really need time to begin digesting all this information, and how much it correlates with the many things that go on within life. I plan to print out this diagram along with the Isha-Kriya so that I can look at them freely, which seems contradicting to one of the yamas, because it seems possessive to have a copy of my own that is not digital. Keeping it on the computer keeps it from taking from another being, which would be the trees. I feel conflicted now. Anyhow, I do enjoy that it has been put into a visual, seeing a lot of my understanding of things comes from visual interpretation. I found it really refreshing to know that we preform so many, if not all of the limbs within our class. Knowing I’ve done these things before helps with having less anxiety when doing them again.

    • Perhaps just bookmark or copy on your device to review, and I think this is a great way to absorb new information that is quite dense and has many levels including your own blossoming and yogic growth. Namaste

  13. I absolutely loved the chart! It was so helpful to actually see what’s supposed to happen on paper. I am someone who needs it on paper or else I will not be able to understand it until a long time has passes. I am intrigued even more to practice yoga. All of this seems so liberating and exciting. I enjoyed the descriptions of the niyamas and yamas. It was incredibly insightful, even though it was brief. The whole chart made me feel like these were the steps to genuine happiness and success. I find that most people find it more difficult to understand more complex ideas if said out loud, it happens to me a lot. This chart helped me understand previous posts as well.

  14. I like the fact that it was presented as a chart and it is so visual. We have done some of the poses in class and I didn’t know that doing these things would take you to a state of meditation and state of oneness. I thought the meditation was what we were doing already in class and while we do the Isha Kriya, but I was wrong. The chart of the 8 limbs of Yoga is pretty helpful to make me see what are the steps of what I have to do to get to a stage of meditation and oneness. The poses and intense focus are some of my difficulties but I want to get better at them and with practice, it will get better. The class is really relaxing in general and when we do the Pratyahara I get so relaxed, I feel like I am going to fall asleep. It is the lack of pain in my back that makes me reach that point. After class I am so relaxed, energetic, I feel like my mind is so clear and I feel some type of warmth in my body, I love it.

  15. I like how this infographic presents something of a hierarchy of perception within yoga. Letting certain ethical principles govern everyday life is a foundation upon which one can begin the physical act of yoga, and the physical poses and breathing exercises provide a foundation for the more transcendental psychological practices. I think this image has done a good job streamlining what is often a very personal, individualistic, journey towards mental clarity.

  16. I found after seeing the chart of the eight limbs, it made a lot of the key concepts we’ve learned resonate more for me. After seeing each step represented visually, I realized that yoga can be seen as a linear process. It helped a lot to see all the steps and phases one must complete in order to attain a state of oneness. It seems helpful to organize each step this way, so that one can feel less overwhelmed by the large amount of new concepts and thus can set/achieve each goal as it comes their way. I’m excited for class next week so that I can think about all of these things in context to the poses and meditation we do going forward.

  17. Seeing this visual of the practice will definitely help me out. I feel like visuals are an easier way for me to get a grasp of what I need to do. This will allow me to become a more mindful and open person which is exactly who I strive to be. I hope to be more concentrated while practicing for the next time. I can focus in class and I hope that after reading this I can become more skilled at home.

  18. I’m usually good at seeing and understanding visuals but with this one, I can’t quite make it out. I know it definitely reaches out to the 8 limbs of yoga. I just need some more instruction behind the visual itself.

    • Do return to the chart over the course of the semester and I think you will be able to better answer your questions. And certainly speak with me before or after class for further clarity, OM

  19. Seeing the chart in comparison to a list of the 8 limbs gave me a better understanding. The list was unclear to me when I first reviewed but after comparing both together and connecting the list to the graphic it created a better understanding. The smaller images within the graph were very helpful as well as the ideas listed under the first two things you must do. Having an understanding of the graph will help me create a better impact on balancing my lifestyle and creating peace within myself.

  20. The article previous talking about the 8-limbs I got a quick understanding of it but the picture of the 8 limbs actually gave me a better understanding of how it works. The chart gives a more of a straightforward visual of whats going to happen and how it will happen and I liked it because for me I learn well with visuals and being hands on. I thought for the Asana part everything it concerned was a straight posture but I was wrong as I see the picture. But this chart clears any questions I have on what exactly to do for Yamas and Niyamas rather than going straight into relaxation. I interpreted the Asana part in the chart of the listing of all the negative thinking as the step in entering a position in where it is possible to feel liberated. I know the more I see the chart and remember the steps I feel like I’ll be able to get concentrated doing the Isha Kriya more easily the more I apply the 8-limbs because now it takes me time to focus when I start.

  21. The chart was originally confusing for me to read but after reading the post about Ashtanga and Niyama, it became clearer. I see how the chart takes you through the steps of yoga in order to really reach self-understanding and a clear connection between mind, body, and spirit. I really liked how the chart broke down the steps into how you would actually practice in yoga, which made it a lot easier to connect the ideologies to the actual reality of doing yoga. I will definitely be referring back to this chart to see how my own yoga practices are progressing.

  22. As I said in the other post, when I first read the description of the eight limbs of yoga I had a hard time comprehending its exact purpose in the yoga practice. My style of learning definitely leans more towards visual, so having both the description followed by this image was exceptionally helpful. After seeing this infographic, it was much easier for me to understand the importance of each of the eight levels. However, the thing I found the most intriguing about this image was the brackets over the top two separate parts of the steps – the description over top of the first six, “things you do,” followed by the description over the final two, “things that happen to you.” My first thought was that the fact that the last two steps are actually of a product of achieving each of the previous six steps is notably empowering in a way. Knowing that I could get to a deep state of meditation and oneness by fully realizing each of the other steps makes me really strive to do so. I am grateful to have a visual image of what can be achieved by following through with the steps of the yoga practice.

  23. I believe seeing the 8 limbs of yoga pose was very help to have a better understanding of the stress relief activities. I feel having the poses visually in front of me helped me understand better what I have to do to keep my mind as ease along with my body. Having these organized out like this helps feel more comfortable with the situation and less overwhelmed. Thank you for this fantastic visual!

  24. The chart above offered some clarity to the meaning behind the eight limbs of yoga. It is a system of principle steps and moral codes to follow in order to enter a journey to self discovery and enlightenment. These ritualistic set of rules allows for the individual to become a more rounded person by balancing the mental, physical, and spiritual within the person who practices it. The eight limbs of yoga seem to be well thought out while still remaining accessible to any who are open enough to commit to the teachings of these practices.​

  25. Seeing the visual 8 steps helps me retain all the practice’s directions and information. I have difficulty with Dharana and the steps beyond because I’m always so tense but I know Dharana and Dhyana comes with time and practice. Just going through step by step will intensify my focus and practice. My favorite step is Pratyahara because I become more self aware of my breathing and postures. I’m excited to break my wall and hit level 6-8.
    Melenie Warner

  26. Being able to see this really help with visualizing what it is I should be doing. Especially sections Yamas and Niyamas. this is a going to be a big help threw out the semester. This should also be helpful outside of class, and I look forward to applying it to my day to day thought process.

  27. This chart of the “8 Limbs of Yoga” has provided me with a clearer, much more perspicuous view on each pose/form of yoga and the connection each one has on the other (forming together as a whole to awaken the body’s full awarness of one’s self/own being). Moving forward upon my study and experience of yoga, I’ll most definitely make sure to slip in the time to flesh out each pose for further relaxation and grasp on the field of meditation.

  28. Looking at the chart made me realize that focusing is meditation, I am new to yoga and I am yet to learn and understand the many aspects of yoga. I am learning how much of a positive affect it will have on my mind. I feel like I can apply these concepts shown on the chart to my everyday life. Following and staying true to these concepts I feel like I can reach a mental peace and live a better life.

  29. I find that having a visual to go along with the information to be very helpful. Although I read about the eight limbs and what each step was, having a chart with images actually helps in visualizing what I need to do for each step. With the visuals in mind, I feel that I can focus on the actual meditation rather than on whether or not I am doing the right steps in the right order.

  30. I found this visual to be extremely informative. I especially appreciate the differentiation between the first six steps and the last two. I think I am going to print this visual out to hang on my wall. I think this will help me remember to focus on the the 8 limbs more in my day to day life. I also find the visual itself to be extremely relaxing. I would love to spend time looking for other visual aids.

  31. As a visually-oriented person (and a visual artist) I respond well to infographics and diagrams like this one. It helps me to organize my concept of each aspect of Yoga and the progression that occurs with the synthesis of them.

  32. The first two limbs, Namas and Niyamas prepare both the body and mind for the experience they are to undertake in order to ascertain liberation; liberation from the mental inhibitions that we induce unto ourselves. Once peace and reason have achieved prominent places in our consciousness, as demonstrated in these two limbs, we face what is asked of our bodies, our vessels, in not only the following six limbs, but also in the continued life that will proceed in it’s own time. In this way the eight limbs are wonderfully analogous to the entirety of our human lives and the struggles we must face, and the beauty, the thankfulness, and the liberation from our negativity that these feelings catalyze.

  33. In my comment on the other post about the 8 limbs of Yoga, I mentioned how intertwined each step seemed to be and I will once again make that point. It is interesting that some of the things that are “lowest down on the chain” in the Niyamas category of observances — contentment and surrender — are things that are achieved through attending to the “higher” limbs. I find that I must consciously focus on my breath in order to surrender and that withdrawal from the senses brings contentment, but that I do not always come to my breathing and to meditation (the Isha Kriya) with contentment and surrender. In fact, sometimes I come kicking and screaming like a baby going into a bath. It is interesting how the things that are best for us are the hardest to do (especially if they are not our habits). I have found such peace at the end of the day after practicing the Isha Kriya and I find that I wake earlier and sleep better, two things that are very important for my mental health. Yet I struggle to observe this on a daily basis. In class, I feel the power of the asanas – yet I have not incorporated more than a few poses into my days. Perhaps it is because I am so eager to withdraw that I am lazy in my practice and I skip the steps thinking unwisely that I will somehow find peace in merely the withdrawal. Yoga is such a gift and the most important part of understanding the eight limbs for me is understanding how much I fail in the observances. The eight limbs is a reminder that you cannot skip the foundations of a practice: the things that you do determine the things that will happen.

  34. I think the chart perfectly shows what the yamas remedy: restraitns. One cannot be able to do any part of yoga if one is jealous, greedy, guilty about lying or guilty about harming. The second limb is designed to promote mindfulness. Cleanliness is done to be mindful about one’s self esteem. Contentment eases pain that may come from wanting more. One must have a zeal to better oneself and be mindful of the fact that they are doing something helpful. Self study helps one achieve the yamas, which in turn lift restraints. Surrender can be interpreted in many ways. First surrendering to a power greater than your own. It could also mean surrendering permanence as exemplified in buddhism. Then comes the progression to samadhi. First is the pose which is designed to get rid of hyperactivity. This leads to tiredness, where one may practice mindful breathing. Then one may withdraw from the senses as a sort of break from yoga. One may then create intense focus, which leads to perfect mindfulness(which buddha terms samadhi) and then one may feel at one with everything and transeding their mind(i feel this way at the end of class when we say our thre Oms).

  35. I found the chart a little helpful for the practice to see where I should be for each leg. The first leg is knowing what we want to rid our selves of, the second leg is cleansing ourselves of that through observance. The third leg and the leg I think is most popularly identified with any yoga practice is Asana. In this leg we pose and begin creating heat. In the next leg we breath. This is refereed to as Pranayama. From there, breathing and creating a focus, in the next leg we want to separate ourselves from the senses, going into a lucid state. The next is meditation here we focus and rid our minds of negativity. When it is over, there has been formed a state of oneness also known as OM.

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