The 8 Limbs of Yoga were written down by Patanjali over 2000 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. Previously, the yoga techniques were passed down orally from yoga guru to disciple. The Sutras (meaning ‘thread’ in sanskrit) are a collection of 196 short statements on the theory and practice of yoga. In essence, the sutras are an outline of the teachings of yoga. Each sutra requires contemplation to unpack the depth of its meaning from its simplicity. Many commentaries have been written which attempt to illuminate the sutras and if you are interested I suggest looking to one of these commentaries for more exploration. The following is a incomplete and simplified version of the The 8 Limbs of Yoga from my humble, pragmatic perspective.
1st Limb: Yamas (Restraints)
2nd Limb: Niyamas (Observances)
The Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical precepts for Yoga, are the foundation for all of the other yogic practices. Rather than view them as a way to judge right from wrong, they can be used for guidance on how to live a yogic life, where we consider which actions will support love and connection.
3rd Limb: Asana (Postures)
The 3rd Limb is the what most people identify with yoga, the physical postures. The postures help ground us into the experiences of our body, anchor us to the present moment and revitalize the flow of energy, relieving stagnate or constricted energy in the body.