Monday, November 16, 2009

Ashtanga Yoga- the eight limbed yoga

The first mention of Ashtanga yoga seems to have occurred in Pantanjali's yoga Sutras. The literal translation is "eight-limbed yoga." Ashtanga yoga embraced eight spiritual principles including moral restraint, posture, breath control, and meditation.

The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are:

Yama - code of conduct, self-restraint
Niyama - religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
Asana - integration of mind and body through physical activity
Pranayama - regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body
Pratyahara - abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects
Dharana - concentration, one-pointed ness of mind
Dhyana - meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)
Samādhi - the quiet state of blissful awareness, super conscious state.

However, as practiced today in the West, ashtanga yoga has come to mean something different. Today, ashtanga yoga is sometimes referred to as power yoga. Its emphasis is less on the spiritual than on the physical ability to assume a set of complicated postures, such as the sun salutation, swiftly and gracefully. Ashtanga yoga places a strong emphasis on breathing techniques. Because if provides a full-body workout, it has found favor among many athletes and other celebrities who must keep their bodies strong and flexible.

Ashtanga yoga requires many difficult movements. Amateurs and even professionals may inadvertently injure themselves by pushing too hard or by forcing themselves into a posture they are not sure how to do. Therefore, people wishing to try ashtanga yoga are advised to take several classes to master the principles before trying to practice alone. It is also a good idea to purchase a yoga sticky mat or a rug to keep from slipping and falling while performing the postures. Some practitioners prefer rugs for doing ashtanga yoga, because the rugs absorb sweat better than mats do.

This Yoga style is also athletic, intense and rather demanding. In Sanskrit Ashtanga means “eight-fold path or eight limbs”. Here, every time the students do a series of postures in the same order. Ashtanga Yoga is rigorous because of the constant movement from posture to posture.

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