There are eight limbs to the body of yoga or, eight aspects that address different parts of ourselves and our experience. As always in yoga, the limbs feed and effect each other. My darling departed friend Will would always say, “get in where you fit in.” While he was an eccentrically crass and hilarious pain in the ass, he was teaching yoga in that saying. The “get in where you fit in” philosophy applies all over yoga. You want a hot and vigorous asana experience; it is there for you. You prefer a more precise and contemplative physical practice; it is there for you. You want to meditate and study; that path is there for you too. Which ever face of yoga excites you, follow it. The reason this works is because one path will naturally open you up to other paths. Meditation will naturally get you ready for and curious about asana. Asana will prepare you for philosophy. It isn’t important to head into a yoga practice intending to devote your life to learning every aspect of yoga. There are no prerequisites for employing this system of yoga in your life. You don’t need to believe in a certain deity, or in the existence of any God at all. The 8 limbs of yoga can work in concert with any faith. Meaningful change originates from inside of us, it is not imposed from the outside. So, show up where you are curious, get in where you fit in, and trust that each aspect of yoga feeds and effects the other aspects. As T. K. V. Desikachar says, “We begin where we are and how we are, and whatever happens, happens.”
The eight limbs of yoga are thorough! They cover everything from how to be with ourselves and others to how to meditate. Some are super relatable and practical they come right into present day with no trip ups whatsoever. Others are more lofty and can feel daunting at first. Luckily we get to dive into the ones that excite us and know that we are growing our relationship with the others simultaneously. The eight limbs are a recipe for a life.
I’d like to go through each of the eight limbs here. I’ll do my best to make them accessible and relatable. I’ll likely go on and on about the aspects of each limb that speak most clearly to me right now, and I’ll trust that this process will grow my ability to hear their others aspects too.