Getting Into the Basics of Ashtanga Yoga
Article by Mark Smith
Ashtanga yoga is a popular and ancient form of yoga passed on to us by the Rishis of the olden days. It has its origins in the Yoga Korunta, a manuscript which carries the different asanas (poses) list. It can be used as a reference for drishti, mudras, vinyasa, bandhas and philosophy. The yoga teachings embodied in the Yoga Korunta was passed from the successive gurus to Pattabhi Jois. This happened in the year 1948. Since then, Guru Pattabhi Jois has been teaching the Ashtanga yoga to all his disciples. He has established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute to help young and aspiring students to be captivated by the magic of yoga.
As ‘asht’ means eight, there are eight numbers of steps to purify your entire being. The same procedure is followed by all schools which teach the Ashtanga yoga. These eight steps can be mastered in succession till you achieve success. After you master the eighth step, you will feel an inner peace and tranquility which will purify your body.
The Eight Steps To Freedom
* Yama(control) – It preaches the principles of ahimsa(non-violence), satya(truthfulness), asteya(non-stealing), brahmacharya(celibacy) and aparigah(non-hoarding) in Ashtanga yoga.* Niyama(rules of personal discipline) – The principles included in this step include shoucha(purity), santosh(contentment), tapa(endurance), Swadhyaya(self-study) and eeshwar pranidhan(dedication).* Asana(yoga poses) – There are about 48 poses, where the body remain motionless for some time in order to seek meditation. * Pranayama(breath control) – Three kinds of bandhas are undertaken for inhaling, holding the breath and exhaling again. * Pratyahara(withdrawal of senses) – There is an increase in concentration of energy in the body brought about by a certain mental preparation in this step of Ashtanga yoga. * Dharana(concentration) – Concentration is built-up on the six centers of the chakras.* Dhyana(meditation) – The mind is trained to focus on only one object while rejecting any other interruptions.* Samadhi(salvation) – The body merges with the divine, giving supreme bliss. This is an everlasting state of mind which is above all material things. Ashtanga yoga is incomplete without this.
The Aim Of These Eight Steps
Pattabhi Jois explains that the first four steps are the cleansing of the external body. The next three are more important as they are for cleansing the internal self. Unless the Ashtanga yoga is practiced as per the guidelines, you will never achieve your goal. It is important to cleanse your body, which will help you to merge with the Supreme being.
Daily asana is a must to build up strength in the body and sense organs. The mind will be empowered to overcome the petty obstacles. When the mind is under control, you will be able to perform the first two steps in Ashtanga yoga with grace. Asana is again grouped into six steps.
The Six Series Of Asana
The first series is the primary series or Yoga Chikitsa. This removes the body of all toxins and makes it ready for the next stage. The Intermediate series or Nadi Shodhana acts on the energy channels and aligns the nervous system. The next four are the Advanced series A, B, C and D or Sthira Bhaga. It brings out the humility in you and makes you more flexible. This sequence is to be strictly adhered to have the positive effects of Ashtanga yoga.
Needless to say, Ashtanga yoga needs dedication and the will to succeed. Only then will you be successful in attaining the perfect mind and body.
About the Author
Mark Smith believes that yoga should form the basis of life. Various forms of yoga, including Ashtanga yoga, should be done properly so that we can get its benefits. According to Mark, there is no short-cut to Ashtanga yoga. We should do the poses properly to gain the benefits.
Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines
whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.