The word Ashtanga is made up of two Sanskrit words "Ashta" and "Anga". "Ashta" refers to the number eight, while "anga" means organ or body part. Ashtanga yoga originated as a philosophy . In the Yoga Sutra, he outlines the 8 fold path to enlightenment. Ashtanga yoga focuses on self, and then moves to the practice of physical postures.
8 Limbs of Philosophy & Principles:
The first limb, Yama, deals with one's moral values and sense of integrity, concentrating on our way and how we carry ourselves in life.
1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other existing creatures.
2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): purity, marital devotion or sexual restrain.
5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.
Niyama, the second limb, has to begin with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly visiting temple or church services, saying grace before meals, growing your meditation practices, or creating a manner of taking meditative walks alone are all parts of niyamas in practice.
1. Santosha (संतोष): satisfaction, acceptance, optimism for self.
2. Tapas (तपस्): austerity, endurance, self-discipline.
3. Svadhyaya (स्वाध्याय): learning of Vedas, learning of self, self-reliance.
4. Ishvarapranidhana (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality).
Praṇayama is the control of the breath, from the Sanskrit prāṇa (प्राण, breath) and āyāma (आयाम, restraint). The practice of consciously controlling the breath (inhalation, the full pause, exhalation, and the empty pause). When we work on releasing the breath through pranayama, we are also operating on engaging the life force flow through the body. It produces the effect of energizing, relaxing, and rejuvenating the body, letting everything fall into place. It truly enhances and balances the life energy in your system.
Pratyāhāra is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- ("against") and āhāra ("bring near"). Pratyahara is moving within one's consciousness. It is a process of removing the sensory involvement from outer objects. Pratyahara allows one to stop being dominated by the outer world, bring one's awareness to explore self-knowledge.
Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा) means concentration, inner-directed focus of mind. The root of the word is dhṛ meaning "to hold, maintain, keep". Dharana, is holding one's mind onto a particular internal state, subject or point of one's mind. The mind is set on a mantra, or one's breathing/navel/any place. Fixing the mind means inner-directed focus, without floating of thought, without shifting from one point to another.
Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has concentrated on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a particular deity, Dhyana is its purpose. If the focus was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental observation of that object. Dhyana is unbroken chain of thought, flow of insight, flow of consciousness.
Patanjali describes this eighth and ultimate grade of ashtanga, samadhi, as a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator unites with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether. The meditator comes to actualize a deep relationship to the Divine, interconnectedness with all existing elements.
· The benefits of a regular Ashtanga practice
This dynamic practice is a combination of vinyasa, ujjayi pranayama, drishti, bandhas, mantras, and mudras. These Sanskrit words have specific meanings and functions in the Ashtanga tradition:
Ashtanga is a very dynamic and athletic form of hatha yoga, made up of six series or levels, with a fixed order of postures. It is rooted in vinyasa, the flowing movements between postures, with a focus on energy and breath. While it is a very physical practice, it also promotes mental clarity and inner peace.
In regards to length, an Ashtanga yoga class takes at least 60 to 90 minutes to go through the Primary Sequence. Advanced power yoga classes can go as long as 2 hours.
Hands-on adjustments also differ in these two styles. An Ashtanga teacher is far more likely to offer adjustments and recommendations for alignment. This is because poses are held longer and can be more self-paced.