Practicing yoga goes far beyond poses and postures. From exploring yamas, ethical and moral values, to honing concentration through dharana, yoga’s 8 limbs enable practitioners to live healthy, moral, and fulfilling lives.
The final limb of yoga, samadhi, is about mastering your practice through integrating all of yoga’s limbs. Succeeding with this practice takes time and dedication not only to samadhi, but to each of the other limbs as well. If you are interested in working toward samadhi or would simply like to learn more about this limb of yoga, explore this guide!
Samadhi: Understanding the Eighth Limb of Yoga
Before jumping into the final limb of yoga, it is important to have an understanding of each of the previous limbs. These 8 practices include:
- Yama – moral and ethical practices
- Niyama – moral observance
- Asana – postures
- Pranayama – breathing control and exercises
- Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
- Dharana – concentration
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – integration, enlightenment, bliss
The final limb of yoga includes mastery of the previous 7 limbs while creating balance and integration in your life. Try exploring some of the following ways to understand and start practicing samadhi.
Introduction to Samadhi
The eighth limb of yoga is a complex idea that has many different interpretations. The word “samadhi” translates to “putting together” or “integration.” Some yogis believe this to mean finding a connection with a superior being through yoga and finding a sense of holistic inner peace. Others believe samadhi is about mastering and integrating of each of yoga’s 8 limbs. A third interpretation of this limb is “bliss” and “enlightenment,” as a result of having a balanced relationship with our minds, bodies, and the world around us.
Those who master samadhi are experts at focusing their energy on their moral practices and they have a strong sense of self-discipline. These practitioners will have the ability to hone their concentration, pull away from distractions, and bring together all of the limbs of yoga.
Working Toward Samadhi
Because samadhi is about integrating each of the 8 limbs of yoga, it takes a lot of practice to achieve. If you are interested in working toward mastering the final limb of yoga, explore some of the following strategies.
- Define Samadhi For You. Yogis interpret the eighth limb of yoga in many ways. Whether you are practicing this limb for self-improvement, for religious purposes, or otherwise, defining your own interpretation of samadhi is a concrete first step you can take toward mastering it. To enhance your understanding, you may consider exploring historic yoga texts that explain this idea or asking your yoga teacher about ways to understand this practice.
- Practice The Other 7 Limbs. Because samadhi is all about bringing together your practice, it is crucial to have a foundation of each of the limbs before bringing them together. If you spend a lot of time practicing asanas, but are less familiar with dharana or pranayama, take that into account and consider devoting some of your practice time to the limbs you are less familiar with.
- Commit To Small Steps Every Day. Another aspect of achieving integration through samadhi is to make a commitment to this practice. Like mastering most things, dedication is key to success. Consider approaching samadhi with a few small steps each day. This way, you can break down your goal one piece at a time rather than being intimidated by a daunting task. Some ways to outline your commitment to samadhi include:
- Creating a schedule to practice asanas to foster physical health and focus on this realm of your practice.
- Finding ways to bring yamas and niyamas into your life to give attention to the moral aspects of yoga.
- Sharing a little love with your biggest supporters to manifest positivity and keep these relationships in balance.
- Make Balance A Priority. Finding bliss and enlightenment through samadhi can also mean having a balance in your life in terms of physical, mental, and spiritual health. To work toward samadhi, think about your life’s current balance. Do you often find you put a lot of energy into some aspects of your life and neglect others? For example, you may spend a lot of time on your physical health but not take enough time for your emotional well-being, even though it is equally as important. Finding ways to foster balance in your life and taking some time to think about how to spend your energy equally across realms of your life is a great way to practice samadhi.
- Get To Know Yourself Better. Many people do not take enough time to focus on themselves and their personal needs. Rather than getting lost in the swing of your day-to-day life, consider moving toward the bliss that comes with the final limb of yoga through thinking about the things that are most important to you. For example, do you spend a lot of energy on things that make other people happy leaving little energy for yourself? If so, think about making some shifts in your life. Consider doing this by making a vision board to outline the things you seek in life, starting a gratitude journal to outline things you are thankful for, or setting aside some time to think about the best ways to practice self-love.
Working toward the eighth limb of yoga may seem daunting, but committing to taking even a few small steps toward this practice may help you find the fulfillment and integration you are hoping for. To continue exploring the 8 limbs of yoga with Cody, check out these ways to practice the fourth yama, brahmacharya, and Essence of Yoga with Sri Dharma Mittra.