8 Limbs is committed to being a supportive and welcoming place to learn and grow through the mind-body practices of yoga.
We root our commitment in the eight limbs of yoga, precepts for living that originated in South Asia and Northern Africa, and honor the lineage of teachers that have informed us as practitioners of yoga in the West.
The name “8 Limbs” comes from the Sanskrit term Ashtanga and refers to the 8 Limbs of Yoga:
Yama (Restraint, attitudes toward our environment)
- Ahimsa – the absence of injury. Commonly referred to as non-violence
- Satya – truthfulness. Living and speaking with complete honesty
- Asteya – not stealing
- Brahmacharya – moderation
- Aparigraha – not hoarding
Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves)
- Saucha – cleanliness
- Santosha – contentment
- Tapas – self-discipline
- Svadhyaya – self-reflection
- Ishvarapranidhana – surrender to a higher power
Asana (physical postures)
Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath)
Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
Samadhi (complete integration)
At 8 Limbs Yoga Centers our drop-in classes focus on asana and pranayama. We also offer classes on other aspects to guide practitioners on their path: check out our Workshops and Series. Our Teacher Training Programs are not only to learn to teach yoga, but to guide the dedicated practitioner further on their path through accountability and community.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga’s benefits affect each person in a different way. Many find that it helps them to relax; others find themselves feeling healthier and more energetic. All the systems in the body-from the lymphatic to the digestive to the cardiovascular-benefit from yoga. Yoga benefits every aspect of our bodies, inside and out.
On the inside, yoga enables relaxation. Many practitioners find that yoga helps them to focus and feel relaxed in both work and play. Many studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol had decreases even after just one session of yoga.
Yoga has also been found to increase alpha and theta waves in the brain, meaning that yoga can relax the brain and increase access to the subconscious and emotions. And by simply increasing the feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, enkephalins, and serotonin, yoga practitioners just feel better.
On the outside, yogis look terrific. This is probably from improvements on the inside! Since yoga balances the metabolism and provides exercise, many find yoga brings their body into balance. Physical yoga strengthens and tones the muscles while improving balance and posture. And yoga is a great way to cross-train for other sports; it can ease strains from injuries and increase strength and flexibility.
When all the body’s systems are balanced, yoga practitioners feel healthier and find they want to make other healthy choices in their life.
BRANCHES OF YOGA
Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of yoga. The asana practice of hatha yoga symbolizes the connection of the sun and the moon, bringing the world and the physical body into balance. Hatha also means “to strike,” meaning to strike the body with the challenge of the postures and to “yoke” (the meaning of yoga) the mind into singular focus. Most styles of yoga in the United States are based in Hatha with different philosophies, practices, and terminology that allow yoga to fit the individual practitioner. Its traditional source in relation to the postures is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. See below for more information on styles of Hatha yoga.
Raja Yoga is the Royal Path (“raja” means king), the yoga of meditation. Its focus is to quiet the mind. The practitioner’s attention is fixed on an object, mantra, or concept. Whenever the mind wanders it is brought back to the object of concentration. In time the mind will cease wandering and become completely still. Raja yoga practitioners aim to establish “a mental link with the supreme source of all spiritual energy and power, the Supreme Soul, with the purpose of freeing the individual soul from misery, pain, fear, illness, and phobias, and enabling the soul to experience peace, happiness and lasting health and prosperity.”
Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge. Jnana yoga is closely associated with Advaita Vedanta, one of the six philosophies of Hinduism. Advaita Vedanta believes that everything in the universe shares a single soul, including all living creatures and God. Jnana yoga is the wisdom associated with discerning the Real from the unreal or illusory.
Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion. In Bhakti yoga, the practitioner’s emotional force is concentrated and channeled toward the Divine. Bhakti practitioners are openly expressive; their devotion is sometimes compared to a love-relationship with a divine being. Kirtan, devotional singing, is a popular practice of Bhakti yoga.
Karma Yoga is the yoga of service to others and to God. Karma yoga practitioners renounce the fruits of action. Activities are assumed for the benefit of the greater good, without concern for personal benefit. The path of Karma-Yoga is described in detail in the Bhagavad-Gita: “Be intent on action; not on the fruits of action.”
STYLES OF HATHA YOGA
There are many styles or schools of Hatha Yoga. Here are a few that inform the teachers here at 8 Limbs, as well a recognition of the “grandfather of modern yoga”, Krishnamacharya.
T. Krishnamacharya, a South Indian yogi born in 1888, is said to be the “grandfather of modern yoga.” One of Krishnamacharya’s key philosophies was that yoga should be adapted to the individual, not the individual to yoga. This rule informed his practice as he taught many of the 20th century’s leading yogis, including Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar, and his son, TKV Desikachar, who were instrumental in bringing yoga to the West. These are the teachers that have most inspired 8 Limbs’ philosophy. The schools or styles of yoga that were developed by these teachers are the first three mentioned below.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a fast-paced, flowing series of sequential postures as prescribed by yoga master K. Pattabhi Jois, who was an early student of Krishnamacharya’s. There are six series of asanas that increase in difficulty, allowing students to work at their own pace. Asanas are connected by the breath and are linked with sun salutations. Most classes taught in the United States focus on the Primary Series.
Iyengar Yoga was developed in Pune, India by BKS Iyengar, one of the most influential yogis of his time. Iyengar was a student of Krishnamacharya’s and took what he learned to cure himself of disease through asana and pranayama. In the Iyengar method, special attention is paid to precise muscular and skeletal alignment. Poses (especially standing postures) are typically held much longer than in other schools of yoga to allow for adjustments to be made. The Iyengar system also uses props, such as belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate any special needs such as injuries or structural imbalances.
Viniyoga means yoga for the individual. As Krishnamacharya aged and taught his son TKV Desikachar, he focused on the adapting asana, pranayama and other yoga practices (ritual, chanting, prayer) to the individual. Viniyoga focuses on the traditional teachings of yoga and the adherence to a practice that serves the individual needs of the practitioner.
- Anatomy of Movement, Blandine Calais-Germain
- The Heart of Yoga, TKV Desikachar
- Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon Gannon and David Life
- The Poetry of the Body, Rodney Yee
- Yoga for Wellness, Gary Kraftsow
- Yoga Mind Body and Spirit, Donna Farhi
- Yoga, The Spirit And Practice Of Moving Into Stillness, Erich Schiffman
- Bhagavad Gita, commentary by Eknath Easwaren
- Bhagavad Gita, translated by Barbara Stoler Miller
- Bringing Yoga to Life, Donna Farhi
- The Essence of Yoga, Bernard Bouanchard
- Light on the Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar
- Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates
- Yoga for Transformation, Gary Kraftsow
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Satchitanada
- A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles Moore, eds.