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More To Yoga Than Just Asana

Posted by terrepruitt on January 13, 2016

I have often mentioned how Nia is a cardio dance exercise that you can take to another level and make it a practice, like yoga.  Yoga is an exercise that you can take to another level by practicing some of the other limbs of yoga.  Yoga has eight limbs.  These limbs are things that one can work with throughout a lifetime.  They are not necessarily things that one masters – well, not things that I can master.  There could be days when it feels as if they have been mastered and then days when it feels like you had never even heard of them because the ideas or actions were just not present.  So . . . these things get “practiced”.  The physical, exercise part of yoga is just one of the limbs.  While Nia is not as . . . I’ll say, “preachey” as yoga we do have some things that can be practiced outside of the dance class, off the dance floor.  Things like noticing your movement and being aware of your relationship with others and things.  But yoga’s limbs are more like rules to live by.

The eight limbs of yoga are:

1)  The yamas.  There are five yamas.  They are often compared to restrictions.  Some think of them as restraints or ethical principles.

2)  The niyamas.  There are five niyamas.  They are often compared to rules.  Some think of them as observances or spiritual practices.

3)  The asana.  There are thousands of poses.  This is the physical limb of yoga.  This is the exercise that has become very popular.  Not only are there a lot of poses, there are many different types of yoga.  Some are ancient and some are very new.  Some types have created new poses.  And sometimes I think that the ancient text has been translated so many different ways we end up with different poses.

4)  Pranayama.  There are various types of pranayama.  This is the breath work of yoga.  I have posted about two types of pranayama, Ujjayi Breathing and Equal Breath
Since this was originally posted I have posted about additional types of pranayama:
Dirgha 03.12.18, and Sitali 06.19.17

5)  Pratyahara.
  This is the withdrawal of the senses.  The idea is that when the mind has control over the senses, can withdrawal them, then it can focus on the other limbs of yoga without distraction.

6)  Dharana.  This is concentration.  The idea of concentration of the mind on one thing leads to meditation.

7)  Dhyana.  This is meditation.  The idea is to be able to concentrate on one point.  Being able to breathe to a state of withdrawal of the senses.  Having complete control.  Then concentration is pure.  Meditation is supremely focused and then . . .

8)  Samadhi.  This is transcendence.  When one is in control over mind and body.

Each of these could definitely use a blog post of their own.  Not sure I will get to them all.  But, I will at least do a post on the yamas, a post on the niyamas, and a post on pranayama.  Probably multiple posts on each of them.  So, if you are interested stay tuned.

I had heard about the first two, and knew that poses and breathing were apart of yoga.  But was not and am not so familiar with the last four.  Did you know there were eight limbs to yoga?  Which ones are you familiar with?    

10 Responses to “More To Yoga Than Just Asana”

  1. I am most familiar with asana – as most people. I’ve heard of the others, but pranayama and dhyana are probably the only others I consciously practice.


    • Yes, poses and meditation, although, I am sure you have practiced some of the yamas and niyamas because some of them seem to line up with just common sense and being a nice person. More about those in posts to come. Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year, Elysha!


  2. Amen sister!


    • Ha, ha, ha! Wasn’t so much preaching as reminding myself or perhaps letting people know. Not everyone knows because there is such a HUGE (only?) focus on the physical aspect of yoga.

      Namaste! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree! “Amen” is my “I agree” being yelled from the roof top, haha. As a yoga teacher myself, I try to instill the mind-body-spirit practice in my students and shift our minds away from just the asanas.


        • I thought so, but I just wanted to clarify, in case someone thought I was saying, “YOU DO THIS . . . I got it.” Ha, ha, ha, ha. I am still working on trying to bring the eight limbs into my classes. Even though we practice some of the yamas and niyamas I don’t refer to them as that . . . working on it.

          Good for you! I think it is great to at least mention the limbs so people at least have it in their minds, the whole “Tree of Yoga”. Thanks!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Awesome! I love teaching while incorporating the eight limbs into the classes. It takes time. How long have you been teaching? Ohhhh, I like that, the “tree of yoga”. I’m going to use that.


            • I hint at things, so I will just continue to do so making more connections as we go. I’ve been teaching since 2013, I think. It has been a bit. I have always focused more on the asana. I have never got the feeling that my students are into learning more. But they are a great group, so I will keep dropping little yoga fruits as we practice.

              See how I did that there? Yoga fruits . . . limbs of yoga . . . tree. Ha, ha, ha.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yes, I see exactly what you mean about allowing your students to “blossom” with subtle hints and “seeds”. It’s all about immersion–slowing immersing yourself (and your students) into yoga–living yoga. Yoga fruits is a great way to nibble your way into being fully rooted! Keep up the great work. I’ve only been teaching since the summer of 2015. Nice chatting with you.


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