I am fascinated by the eight limbs of yoga and I try and find ways to bring the philosophy into my own life. I created this eight limbs of yoga “homework” as part of the MamaNurture Prenatal Yoga teacher training last year. When one of the graduates told me that she was still using parts of it a year later I knew I wanted to share it. Feel free to try it and/or change it to suit your own Svādhyāya (self-study).
What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga?
- Ahiṃsā: Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings
- Satya: truthfulness, non-falsehood
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: celibacy, non-cheating on one’s partner
- Aparigraha: non-avarice, non-possessiveness
- Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
- Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism
- Tapas: persistent meditation, perseverance, austerity
- Svādhyāya: study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches and actions
- Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara(God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality)
3. Asana – postures practiced in yoga, body is a temple, preparation for meditation
4. Pranayama – breath control, connecting breath-mind-emotions
5. Pratyahara – withdraw from the external stimuli and look at our internal self
6. Dharana – concentration on a single point, before meditation, object, mantra, etc.
7. Dhyana – meditation, state of keenly aware without focus
8. Samadhi – state of ecstasy, connection to divine and all living things
Eight Limbs of Yoga “Homework”
a) Ahimsa – Choose to do something to demonstrate self-love today. Write your name or draw a picture of yourself and put a heart around it in your journal.
b) Satya – Tell someone a positive truth about another person today. Write about your experience with this.
c) Asteya – Find a quote that speaks to you today. Write it down with the author’s name and then research the author and write down 3 things about them that you find out.
d) Brahmacharya – Set a boundary for moderation of your energy in some way today. Write it out as though it is already. (i.e.) I shut off all screens by 7pm because I am able to settle to sleep for the day better.
e) Aparigraha – Notice if you are tempted to label something as “mine” today and change the wording. Write about how this makes you feel.
a) Sauca – Choose something to clean today and feel like this is a sacred ritual instead of a job on the to do list. Draw a picture or take a picture of the before and after.
b) Santosa – Write about a life experience that was challenging at the time, but that you are content with and grateful for now. How might you have acted different if you were to have your perspective today?
c) Tapas – Choose one thing that you would like to do for the next 40 days and set your willpower to help with this goal. Write it down and then tell a supportive friend your goal.
d) Svadhyaya – Read over your previous journal entries and reflect on it. Add notes or write about anything that you have learned from.
e) Isvara-pranidhana – Write one of the following words into your journal and doodle or write around it. Surrender. Devotion. Dedication. Faith.
3. Asana – Create an asana today that you have never seen or done before. Give it a name and draw it.
4. Pranayama – Set a timer for three minutes and sit comfortably, choose a pranayama practice to do and notice how you feel after the three minutes has ended.
5. Pratyahara – Write down five characteristic traits that you would like to exhibit, even in the chaos and stress of everyday life. Sit in meditation for five minutes visualizing yourself with these traits.
6. Dharana – Light a candle and sit in meditation focused on the light of the candle for 3-5 minutes. Notice as much detail as possible about the candle. Draw or write about your experience.
7. Dhyana – Set 10-20 minutes aside to walk in nature today in silence. Notice all that is going on around you and begin to notice if you feel that you are part of this or separate to it all. How can you become part of this and stay focused in your true qualities?
8. Samadhi – Write about an activity or experience where you felt moments of bliss and connection to the divine. Remember this can be just a few seconds of having this feeling. We all have experienced this.