Want To Improve Your Life? Try Ashtanga Yoga
Article by Peter Crump
One of the philosophies of Yoga is called Patanjali and comes from the Sanskrit for it’s definition of Ashtanga Yoga. Ashta means 8 and Anga means limbs and these 8 limbs are intended to help the Ashtange Yoga devotee to live a healthy life. The practice of this form of Yoga is intended to help us minimize stress in our lives, which if course is a good thing, or at least minimize it’s effect. It also strengthens our endurance.
Ashtanga Yoga was made popular by the Yoga guru Shri K Pattabhi Jois.There is a different term in western Yoga to describe what is in effect a form of Ashtanga Yoga. This term is Power Yoga. Power Yoga is modeled on Ashtanga yoga.
The 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are as follows:
Asana is the discipline of performing Yoga exercises for the betterment of your body and spirit.
Niyama is for taking control of your life. Control comes from personal restraint. Niyama is the combination of joy (santosh), patience (tapa), self study (swadhyaya), purity (shoucha) and love of god (esgwar pranidhan).
Yama is to enable us to dwell on the good and honorable of human behavior. This is comprised of non violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), celibacy (brahmacharay), and the ability to stay clear of envy, jealousy and other possessive and destructive behaviours (aparigraha). Stealing is also resisted (asteya).
As with many other branches of Yoga the breathing is controlled and this is Pranayma.
Dharna is to help us concentrate on personal learning to improve our understanding of our place in the overall scheme of life, and to form long term goals or a firm mission for our life.
Pratyahara is to help us isolate ourselves from the hustle and bustle and background noise of the world to allow our minds to focus within and become a haven for positivity.
Dhyana is to help us concentrate on our mission and long terms goals from the pursuit of meditation
Samadhi is the attainment of a state of bliss and peace, the ability to find and focus on our life mission and to continually strive to reach the final goal of personal enlightenment.
As can be seen Ashtanga Yoga has some lofty ends. It is practiced in a series of stages where the student of progresses at their own pace to achieve their goal.
This starts with the Yoga Chikitsa which is a form of Yoga therapy which is intended to detox the body and to build strength and stamina. It takes around 2 hours to complete the 75 poses involved. The start of the exercises is the surya namaskar (the sun salutation) and then the student moves on to a series of standing exercises and sitting exercise followed by inversions and relaxation exercises.
The second set in the series of 6 is called the nadi shodana and it helps with strengthening the nervous system. These exercises follow the same sequence as the first set of exercises but with the inclusion of some extra exercises.
The final set of 4 from the series is called sthira bhaga meaning divine permanence. This the final and advanced form of the practice and is only for students who have finally mastered the intitial exercises.
The pursuit of Yoga, including Ashtanga Yoga, is a lifetime passion. It isn’t easy and requires discipline, but the discipline is worth it.
About the Author
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