Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga

K. Pattabhi Jois (26 July 1915-18 May 2009), an esteemed yoga guru, developed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. This form of yoga is a highly demanding workout that synchronizes breathing and movement, resulting in a seamless sequence of postures. The workout comprises six sets of poses that a practitioner must master before proceeding to the next level.

  • The primary series, also identified as yoga chikitsa, emphasizes posture realignment, enhanced strength, and suppleness.
  • The Nadi Shodana, also referred to as the second series, emphasizes purifying the nervous system while opening up the body’s energy channels.

Practicing Ashtanga yoga is said to have many benefits, including increased strength, flexibility, and focus, as well as improved breathing and circulation. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to be mindful of one’s body and exercise caution to prevent injury.

Ashtanga means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit, and the system is so called because it consists of eight interrelated exercises, or limbs, designed to help practitioners achieve physical, mental and spiritual harmony.

The eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga are as follows:

8 limbs of ashtanga yoga

1. Yama

Yama is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, a system of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali. Yoga practitioners strive for a well-adjusted and agreeable existence by adhering to a collection of ethical principles known as Yama. Five Yama exist in Ashtanga Yoga, and they are:

Ahimsa – Non-violence
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Non-stealing
Brahmacharya – Moderation
Aparigraha – Non-greediness

Yamas are the foundation of the yogic lifestyle, promoting a harmonious relationship with self, others and the environment. Practitioners are equipped with principles that promote inner peace, spiritual growth, and an overall sense of contentment when they adhere to these guidelines.

2. Niyama

Niyama is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of yoga described by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Niyama refers to a series of spiritual observations that is required by yoga practitioners in order to live a balanced and harmonious life.There are five niyamas in Ashtanga yoga, namely:

Saucha – Cleanliness
Santosha – Contentment
Tapas – Discipline
Svadhyaya – Self-study
Ishvara pranidhana – Surrender to a higher power

These Niyamas are considered the foundation of the yogic lifestyle and provide practitioners with a guide to a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship to the world around them. By following the Niyamas, inner peace, contentment, and spiritual growth can be cultivated.

3. Asana

Asana is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of yoga described by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali in the yoga Sutras. Asanas refer to poses practiced in yoga and are generally the most recognized and practiced aspect of yoga in the Western world.

In Ashtanga yoga, asana practice involves a series of poses performed in a specific order, with synchronized breathing. This is known as the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, it’s a dynamic and physically demanding practice that builds strength, flexibility and stamina while calming the mind and improving focus.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. This system of yoga was first described in the ancient text, Yoga Sutras by the Indian philosopher, Patanjali. Pranayama is the regulation of breath, and it holds a crucial position in the path of yoga.

An integral part of Ashtanga yoga, pranayama comprises an array of breath-regulating techniques such as Nadi shodhana, Kumbhaka, and Kapalabhati. These techniques aim to enhance the pranic flow within the body and foster a sense of relaxation and focus while promoting normalcy in the nervous system.

5. Pratyahara

Pratyahara is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, an entire system of yoga detailed in the ancient yoga sutras by Patanjali. It involves the deliberate disconnection of one’s senses from the external world and is believed to be a fundamental stride towards gaining insight into oneself, and realizing one’s potentials.

In Ashtanga Yoga, the practice of pratyahara involves developing a state of inner focus and focus in which the mind is free from the distractions. This can be achieved through various techniques such as visualization, repeating a mantra or focusing on a single object.

6. Dharana

Dharana is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, an entire system of yoga detailed in the ancient yoga Sutras by Patanjali. The practice of mindfulness, Dharana, is one of eight essential limbs in this system and a crucial step towards meditation and self-discovery.

As a part of Ashtanga Yoga, practitioners of Dharana concentrate their minds on one chosen object- be it a mantra, a flickering candle flame, or a specific body part. The ultimate objective of this practice is to cultivate an unwavering and undivided stream of attention, devoid of any distracting influences.

7. Dhyana

Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, which is a comprehensive system of yoga detailed in the yoga Sutras by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali, is Dhyana. The term Dhyana refers to the practice of meditation, which is considered a pivotal stage in the pursuit of self-awareness and emancipation.

The Ashtanga Yoga tradition emphasizes the cultivation of a profound and unwavering sense of inward focus during meditation. The aim is to attain a state of mental clarity that is unaffected by external stimuli, leading to a distraction-free mind. This can be achieved through various techniques such as concentrating on the breath, visualizing specific images or symbols, or using mantras or sound vibrations.

8. Samadhi

Samadhi is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, a system of yoga detailed by the revered Indian sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, lies a practice known as Samadhi. This state of deep meditation involves the melding of individual consciousness with universal consciousness, resulting in an absolute state of euphoria, unity, and self-realization.

The Ashtanga yoga philosophy outlines the state of samadhi as a supreme meditation technique. It involves achieving a state of deep concentration where the practitioner unites with the object of meditation, shedding all personal identity. This state of mindfulness is considered the zenith of human consciousness and represents the ultimate goal of the yogic journey.

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