what is Asthang yoga?

Asthang Yoga, often spelled as Ashtanga Yoga, is a traditional system of yoga that was popularized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century. The term “Ashtanga” means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit, referring to the eight-fold path of yoga as described by the ancient sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. lets first know

who was patanjali?

Patanjali is an ancient sage credited with compiling the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text in the philosophy and practice of yoga. Living sometime between the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE in India, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras consist of 196 aphorisms divided into four chapters (padas), systematically outlining the principles and practices of yoga. Beyond yoga, Patanjali is also associated with contributions to grammar and possibly Ayurveda. His work on the Yoga Sutras remains pivotal, offering a comprehensive framework that includes ethical guidelines, physical postures, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation (kaivalya), influencing spiritual seekers, scholars, and practitioners across centuries and shaping the diverse schools of yoga and Indian philosophy. He was the true and first ancient figure who merges scince with yoga.

Eight Components of Asthang Yoga

Here are the eight limbs or components of Ashtanga Yoga:

1.Yama: Ethical guidelines or moral disciplines, including principles like non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, and non-possessiveness.

Niyama: Self-disciplines or personal observances, such as cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study, and surrender to a higher power.

Asana: Physical postures practiced in yoga to develop strength, flexibility, and balance. In the context of Ashtanga Yoga, this primarily refers to a specific series of dynamic and challenging postures.

Pranayama: Control and expansion of the breath through various techniques, aimed at regulating the life force (prana) in the body.

Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses from external distractions, focusing the mind inward.

Dharana: Concentration, the ability to focus the mind steadily on a single point or object.

Dhyana: Meditation, where concentration leads to a state of profound contemplation or absorption.

Samadhi: Union or integration, the ultimate goal of yoga where the practitioner experiences a state of oneness with the object of meditation or with the universe.

Eight Components of Asthang Yoga in Details

Certainly! Let’s delve into each of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga with more detail:

1. Yama: Yamas are ethical guidelines or moral disciplines that guide our behavior towards others and the world around us. There are five Yamas:

  • Ahimsa: Non-violence or non-harming. This means avoiding physical, mental, and emotional harm to others and oneself.
  • Satya: Truthfulness. Being honest in our thoughts, speech, and actions.
  • Asteya: Non-stealing. Not taking what does not belong to us, whether it’s physical objects, ideas, or someone’s time and energy.
  • Brahmacharya: Moderation or conservation of energy. Traditionally interpreted as celibacy or restraint in sexual energy, it can also mean channeling one’s energy towards spiritual pursuits.
  • Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness or non-greediness. Letting go of attachments to material possessions and desires

2. Niyama: Niyamas are personal observances or disciplines that foster self-discipline and spiritual growth. There are also five Niyamas:

  • Saucha: Cleanliness or purity, both externally and internally. This includes cleanliness of the body, environment, and mind.
  • Santosha: Contentment. Being satisfied with what one has, rather than constantly seeking external sources of happiness.
  • Tapas: Austerity or self-discipline. Cultivating self-discipline and determination to achieve one’s goals.
  • Svadhyaya: Self-study or study of spiritual texts. This involves introspection, self-reflection, and studying sacred texts to gain self-knowledge.
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to a higher power or devotion to the divine. Acknowledging and accepting that there is a greater purpose beyond our individual selves.

3. Asana: Asanas are physical postures practiced in yoga. In Ashtanga Yoga, specific sequences of asanas (poses) are practiced in a flowing manner, synchronized with deep breathing (ujjayi breath). The primary purpose of asanas is to purify and strengthen the body, improve flexibility, and prepare the mind for meditation.

4. Pranayama: Pranayama involves breath control techniques that regulate the flow of prana (life force energy) in the body. Through pranayama, practitioners learn to control and expand their breath, which in turn calms the mind, increases concentration, and enhances vitality.

5. Pratyahara: Pratyahara means withdrawal or mastery of the senses. It involves consciously withdrawing the senses from external stimuli and turning the attention inward. By practicing pratyahara, one develops inner awareness and reduces distractions during meditation and introspection.

6. Dharana: Dharana is concentration or the practice of focusing the mind on a single point or object. It involves training the mind to remain steady and focused without wavering. Concentration practices in yoga often involve focusing on a mantra, an image, or the breath.

7.Dhyana: Dhyana is meditation, a state of deep contemplation or absorption. In dhyana, the practitioner experiences a profound state of concentration where the mind becomes calm, clear, and tranquil. Meditation leads to heightened awareness, inner peace, and spiritual insight.

8. Samadhi: Samadhi is the ultimate goal of yoga, often described as a state of ecstasy or enlightenment. It is a state of complete union with the object of meditation or with the universal consciousness. In samadhi, the practitioner transcends the boundaries of the individual self and experiences unity with the divine or ultimate reality.

Summary

These eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga provide a systematic and holistic approach to spiritual and personal development. They guide practitioners on a journey towards self-discovery, inner peace, and spiritual fulfillment through ethical living, physical practice, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and ultimately, union with the divine.

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