The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree Explained: A Guide to the Divine Source

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree

When we think of yoga, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the physical practice. But there is so much more to yoga than just the asanas (poses). In fact, yoga is a complete system that includes eight limbs:

  1. The Yamas (restraints)
  2. The Niyamas (observances)
  3. Asana (posture)
  4. Pranayama(breath control)
  5. Pratyahara(withdrawal of senses)
  6. Dharana(concentration)
  7. Dhyana(meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absorption)

In this blog post, I will explain each limb in detail and how it can help you on your journey to divine source energy – and to sleep better!

Key Takeaways

  • The 8 limbs of yoga tree provide a guide to achieving physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
  • The Yoga Tree represents the interconnectedness of all things in the universe and the various paths and practices of yoga.
  • The Yoga Sutras are ancient writings on yoga philosophy that provide guidance on how to live a conscious, meaningful, and purposeful life.
  • The eight limbs of yoga are derived from the Yoga Sutras.
  • Yoga Nidra is not directly linked to the eighth limb of yoga, it can be seen as a complementary practice that can help individuals sleep better

What is the Yoga Tree?

The Yoga Tree is a metaphorical representation of the philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga. The tree symbolizes the interconnectedness of all things in the universe, and how the practice of yoga can help individuals tap into that interconnectedness and find a deeper sense of unity and peace.

In yoga philosophy, the tree is often used as a symbol of growth, strength, and stability. The roots of the tree represent the foundational practices of yoga, such as meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork, while the branches represent the various paths and practices that stem from those roots.

What is the Yoga Tree in yoga philosophy?

The eight limbs of yoga tree plays a vital role in shaping the tree and the yogi.

  1. The roots of the tree represent the first two limbs of yoga, Yamas and Niyamas, which are guidelines for ethical standards and moral conducts, and observances and disciplines, respectively.
  2. The trunk represents the third and fourth limbs, Asana and Pranayama, which are physical practice of yoga postures and breathing techniques used to control the energy in the body.
  3. The branches of the tree represent the fifth limb, Pratyahara, which is taking an inward focus to open oneself,
  4. while the leaves represent the sixth and seventh limbs, Dharana and Dhyana, which are allowing the mind to focus on one thing and holding concentration while staying relaxed; meditation, respectively.
  5. the fruit of the tree represents the eighth limb, Samadhi, which is when ego dissolves and you have the ability to be infinite love.

Understanding the Yoga Tree is important in comprehending the eight limbs of yoga and the overall intention of yoga, which is to practice being content with ourselves, with our world, and creating a place where we can all feel as one being.

What are the 8 limbs of yoga?

1. Yama

The first limb of yoga is Yama, which focuses on ethical standards and behavior. It is divided into five components, including Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (right use of energy), and Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding).

  • Ahimsa teaches us to be kind to all living beings and eliminate negative thoughts from our minds.
  • Satya emphasizes living an authentic life and building better relationships.
  • Asteya educates us on living a life without stealing, both physically and mentally.
  • Brahmacharya focuses on self-control and avoiding overindulgence in senses.
  • Aparigraha encourages us to live a simple life without being greedy.

2. Niyama

The second limb of yoga, Niyama, deals with personal observances and self-discipline. It is made up of five components: Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana.

  • Saucha means purity and cleanliness of both the body and mind.
  • Santosha is contentment, a state of mental calmness and happiness.
  • Tapas refers to spiritual austerities and the willingness to make changes in oneself.
  • Svadhyaya is self-study, focusing on self-reflection and the study of spiritual texts.
  • Ishvara Pranidhana is surrender to a higher power.

These components encourage individuals to observe personal codes of behavior, such as regularly attending religious services, practicing meditation, and showing gratitude before meals. Niyama is a way to build character and develop a yogic lifestyle, focusing on self-awareness and self-discipline.

3. Asana

The Asana limb of yoga refers to the physical practice of yoga postures and movements. Asanas are designed to prepare the body for meditation, cultivate discipline and concentration, and improve physical and mental health. Through regular practice, one can develop mental and physical strength, flexibility, and balance. Asanas also stimulate various body systems, leading to improved physical health and longevity.

Incorporating asanas into daily life can help fight depression and anxiety, create balance in the body, and facilitate a healthier eating lifestyle. It is recommended to perform asanas for at least 15-30 minutes a day to deepen your connection and advance through the 8-limbed yoga path.

Remember, “you don’t own a posture until you can breathe in it.” So, practice asanas with grace, stability, and ease.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight-fold path of yoga, meaning “breath control” in Sanskrit. It involves techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. The literal translation of Pranayama is “life force extension” and it is believed to not only rejuvenate the body but also extend life itself.

Practicing Pranayama offers numerous benefits, including

  • increased lung capacity,
  • balanced nervous system,
  • lower blood pressure,
  • preparation for meditation,
  • and balance of chakras.

There are different types of Pranayama techniques, each with specific benefits, such as

  • Nadi Shodhana for relaxation
  • Anulom Vilom for purification.

Incorporating Pranayama into a well-rounded yoga practice is crucial for refining our personalities, gaining mastery over the body, and developing an energetic awareness of ourselves, preparing us for the journey toward a higher state of consciousness.

5. Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of the 8 limbs of yoga, which refers to the withdrawal of an individual from their senses to shift their focus away from external chaos. This practice is essential for spiritual growth and living a peaceful life in the midst of external stimuli.

Through Pratyahara, we become aware of our internal environment and can observe our cravings and habits that may be detrimental to our health.

Practical tips for cultivating Pratyahara include turning off your phone or other external stimuli while practicing yoga, focusing on Mudras and Bandhas, and practicing awareness and reflection.

By incorporating Pratyahara into your daily life, you can reduce negative feelings such as stress, promote inner joy and happiness, and improve your overall mental and physical health.

6. Dharana

Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga, which means “concentration.” The benefits of Dharana include improved physical and mental health, as well as a path to self-realization.

It is closely linked to two limbs, pratyahara and dhyana, and is an essential part of the same aspect. Dharana fixes one’s mind onto a particular topic. Fixing the mind means strong focus, without drifting off.

To achieve Dharana, one must first master the previous limbs, including asana, pranayama, and pratyahara. The essence of concentration and focus in achieving Dharana cannot be overstated.

Techniques that can help practitioners improve their ability to concentrate include

  • sitting comfortably,
  • focusing on the third eye,
  • and breathing slowly.

7. Dhyana

Dhyana is the seventh limb of yoga and involves reaching a meditative state where the mind is quiet and clear. To practice Dhyana, one must first master the previous six limbs of yoga – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dharana.

In Dhyana, the mind becomes absorbed in the focus of the meditation, allowing one to separate illusion from reality and find inner bliss. To achieve this state, one must flow with the awareness of their focal point without attachment or judgment. While it may take many years to master, the benefits of Dhyana are numerous. Practicing Dhyana can help to

  • calm racing thoughts,
  • create more space within oneself,
  • and improve overall mental clarity.

8. Samadhi

The final limb of yoga, Samadhi, is the ultimate goal of the yoga practice. It is a state of complete and blissful union with the divine source. Through Samadhi, the ego, monkey mind, and desires are transcended, and one is liberated to live in cosmic connection with the source.

This state of enlightenment is the deepest experience of who you are, in union with the whole and oneness with the universe. Samadhi ignites glowing illumination, radiance, and presence, and can transform you in a moment.

To reach Samadhi, one can incorporate practices such as

  • pranayama,
  • dharana,
  • and dhyana

By integrating the eighth limb into our life experiences, we can live with meaning and purpose, joy and wholeness, and ultimately achieve the peace, fulfillment, and freedom that all human beings aspire to.

Benefits of using the 8 limbs of yoga tree in your practice

The 8 limbs of yoga provide a holistic approach to yoga, encompassing not just physical postures but also ethical and spiritual principles.

It’s important to approach the 8 limbs as a journey rather than a destination, exploring each limb in your own time and at your own pace.

Limb of Yoga TreeBenefits
YamaPromotes ethical behavior, cultivates positive relationships with others, and promotes a sense of inner peace and contentment.
NiyamaHelps individuals establish a daily routine and habits that support their physical, mental, and spiritual health.
AsanaHelps improve physical strength, flexibility, and balance, and promotes overall physical health and wellbeing.
PranayamaHelps regulate the breath and increase the flow of vital energy (prana) throughout the body, promoting relaxation, mental clarity, and overall wellbeing.
PratyaharaHelps individuals turn their attention inward and detach from external distractions, promoting inner peace and stillness.
DharanaHelps improve concentration and focus, allowing individuals to enter deeper states of meditation and awareness.
DhyanaHelps individuals enter a deep meditative state, promoting inner peace, clarity, and insight.
SamadhiThe ultimate goal of yoga, Samadhi is a state of deep meditative absorption where the individual experiences a profound sense of unity and interconnectedness with the universe.
Benefits of using the 8 limbs of yoga tree

By incorporating all eight limbs of the Yoga Tree into your practice, you can promote overall physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, cultivate positive relationships with others, and develop greater inner awareness, focus, and clarity.


What is the yoga sutra and how does it relate to the 8 limbs of yoga?

The Yoga Sutras are ancient writings on yoga philosophy, attributed to Patanjali, which provide guidance on how to live a conscious, meaningful, and purposeful life.

The word “sutra” means to thread or weave, and the sutras offer a comprehensive system for achieving spiritual enlightenment. The eight limbs of yoga are derived from the yoga sutras.

Patanjali ordered the limbs from outer to inner, with the lower limbs anchoring us and the upper limbs of self-reflection.

Together, the eight limbs of yoga form a tree, with solid roots, sturdy branches, and a hefty trunk supporting it all. When practiced in a yoga studio with attention and presence, the eight limbs refine and stabilize every aspect of our lives, reminding us how to be in a loving relationship with ourselves, others, and the divine within.

What is the difference between asana and meditation?

Asana and meditation are two distinct elements of yoga’s 8 Limbs.

Asana refers to the physical practice of yoga poses and movements that prepare the body for meditation. Its purpose is to develop discipline and concentration, creating mental, physical, and emotional balance.

Meditation involves focusing the mind and drawing the focus inward, eventually leading to union with the divine or Samadhi.

While asana prepares the body for meditation, meditation deepens the practice of asana by allowing for more ease in long-seated meditation poses. Together, they complement each other to create a holistic yoga practice that benefits the mind, body, and spirit.

What is Samadhi and how does it relate to Yoga Nidra?

Samadhi is the ultimate goal of yoga practice. It is a state of deep connection to the divine source, where the practitioner experiences complete and lasting bliss.

There are different stages of samadhi, with the final stage being enlightenment. This state of ecstasy is achieved when the practitioner merges with their point of focus and transcends the self altogether, realizing a profound connection to the universe.

The practice of Yoga Nidra can be seen as a tool to help individuals progress along the path towards Samadhi by promoting deep relaxation, inner awareness, and detachment from external distractions. Yoga Nidra is not just physical practice but some kind of meditation (see Yoga Nidra vs Meditation). It can also help individuals access the subconscious mind and work through deep-seated issues and emotions that may be blocking their progress towards Samadhi.

Which limb of yoga is Yoga Nidra?

Overall, while Yoga Nidra is not directly linked to the eighth limb of yoga, it can be seen as a complementary practice that can help individuals deepen their experience and understanding of the various stages of consciousness and awareness that are part of the broader system of yoga.

How long does it take to see results from yoga?

Some people may start to see physical benefits, such as increased flexibility or improved muscle strength, after just a few weeks of consistent practice. Others may take several months or even years to see significant changes in their physical abilities.

Similarly, the mental and emotional benefits of yoga, such as reduced stress and improved mood may be experienced after just a few sessions, while some may need to practice consistently over a longer period of time.

Choose a time of day when you do yoga nidra – when you’re least likely to be interrupted or distracted is the best time. If you have a busy schedule, try waking up earlier or going to bed later to fit in your practice.

Do yogis sleep on the floor?

The practice of where yogis sleep can vary greatly depending on their individual beliefs and lifestyle choices. In traditional yoga ashrams or monasteries, yogis or monks may sleep on the floor or on a thin mat as a practice of austerity or to cultivate a sense of detachment from material comforts. However, this is not a requirement for practicing yoga or following the eight limbs of the Yoga Tree.

In modern times, most yoga practitioners choose to sleep in a comfortable bed or on a supportive surface that promotes proper spinal alignment and restful sleep. Some may also use additional props, such as weighted blankets, pillows, aromatherapy or bolsters, to support relaxation. Listening to white noise during meditation is also a great practice to relax and sleep better.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.