In Sanskrit” Ashta + Anga is Ashtanga.”Ashta” means Eight and “Anga” is limbs so it means Eight limb path, Ashtanga Yoga is based on Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali. The Asanas, Pranayama’s or the dharana which we have studied earlier or the Yam and Niyam are based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Hence, we will acquaint ourselves with the fundamentals as stated by Patanjali First.
History of Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga has its roots about 5000 years BC as described in Vedic Philosophy and Tantras. Patanjali, great sage composed this path into a Darshan (Philosophy) in his Book Patanjali Yoga Sutra. In which he has formulated Yoga as an Eight Limbs or Eight – Fold Path.
Eight Limbs of Astanga Yoga
- Yama (Principles or moral code)
- Ahimsa – A principle of non-violence
- Satya – A principle of Truthfulness
- Asteya – A principle of non stealing
- Brahmacharya – Continence / Celibacy
- Aparigah – A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness
- Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
- Shoucha – Purity
- Santosh – Contentment
- Tapa – Endurance
- Swadhyaya – Self study
- Eshwar Pranidhan – Dedication
- Asana (Yoga Positions or Yogic Postures) : A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.
- Pranayama (Yogic Breathing): Extension and control of breath.
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses): A mental preparation to increase the power of mind.
- Dharana (Concentration on Object): Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
- Dhyan (Meditation): With drawing mind from all external objects and Focusing it on one point and meditating on it.
- Samadhi (Salvation): State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness in to universal consciousness. Union between Jivatman and Paramatman. Union of Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrar Chakra (the top of the head). Realizing the Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the ultimate achievement of Human Birth.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
- Physical strength : Ashtanga Yoga focuses on muscle training and develops physical strength. Practicing Ashtanga rejuvenates your body, making it stronger, toned, more flexible and controlled.
- The opening series includes lots of contortion – esque poses and many of them require core and arm strength. Your stamina and endurance will gradually improve and you’ll have stronger core muscles. Another advantage of Ashtanga is that you can move through the practice at your own pace and level.
- Effective cardio workout: Ashtanga is great if you need a cardio workout. It will help you to get in shape, manage your weight and stay fit, all that, while doing long slow deep breathing! When done swiftly, these movements can effectively raise your heart rate. Sequences of Ashtanga postures are done in a continuous, fast-paced way and the dynamic flow of the Asanas (postures) may give you the sense of intensity. If you prefer more vigorous styles of yogic practice, Ashtanga is just the right style for you.
- Good Coordination: Ashtanga Yoga is a powerful tool to tune the body. It improves focus, balance and coordination. A swift and intense set of Asanas instills a better sense of rhythm and increases your awareness of the movement and flow of your body.
- Emotional Benefits: This style of yoga also emphasizes emotional and mental flexibility and strength. Asanas can affect not only your muscles and joints but also your emotions and enable purification. By practicing Ashtanga, you will find a balance between feelings and emotions. It will help you deal with emotionally difficult situations, work through the pain and suppressed emotions, and overcome them. The equilibrium in your emotions will cause your organs and your whole body to work more efficiently and you will realize how strongly connected your body and mind are.
- Mental Healing: Ashtanga yoga will keep your body moving in coordination with the breath. Breath awareness is particularly important in this practice. This sort of moving meditation and constant focus on the breath will purify and still your mind, relieve you of stress and allow you to alter patterns of unwanted behavior.
- Ashtanga will bring you back to yourself and keep you centered on a daily basis. This practice teaches us to move beyond our mind, attain inner union and deep realization. Start practicing Ashtanga yoga in Poway and get in a state of being calm, energized, relaxed, and liberated.
- Spiritual well-being: As we already mentioned, there is a set of specific sequences based on the practitioner’s skill and experience that every Ashtangi has to follow. Repeating the same poses in the exact order has its purpose and the benefits are not only physical. It awakens your spiritual self.
- The first four limbs cleanse your external and teach you how to interact with the world around you. The next four limbs focus on withdrawal, cleansing the internal and how you relate to your mind.
- You will face your sore spots and work through your challenges until you reach mental clarity and gain a better understanding of the self. Through the practice of postures, focus points and breathing, you will be able to explore the limitless nature of your inner self