The Basics of Ashtanga Yoga

The word yoga has become synonymous with stretching exercises and the image of a person deep in though while posing with both legs kept together and the yes close. This may be basically true but this is not the whole truth of yoga. In fact, there are a variety of yoga styles that are not known to most people.

One yoga style is known as Ashtanga Vinyasa which is characterized by aerobic actions and which originally targeted teenagers particularly boys. However, Ashtanga Yoga is now popular by enthusiasts of all sex and ages.

The word Ashtanga literally means eight for ashta and limbs for anga. True to its original meaning of eight limbs, Ashtanga Yoga follows the eight limbs identified with the discipline called yoga. The eight limbs poses can be found in the Yoga Sutras as detailed by Patanjili.

Indian Sri Pattabhi Jois taught Ashtanga Yoga to his students but this type of yoga was started by Sri Krishnamacharya whose book known as Yoga Makaranda became the basis for the asana poses or sequences in Ashtanga Yoga. Krishnamacharya is a major influence in the development of yoga because he was considered the great teacher of many yoga teachers.

While he has been a major influence in the various types of yoga being taught today, it is still the Ashtanga Yoga that is considered the closest to the teachings originally espoused by Krishnamacharya.

Unknown to many people who are not well versed on the goings on of Yoga, the various types of Yoga is intended for specific reasons. This was the thrust of Krishnamacharya who made sure that the yoga he was teaching specifically conformed or responded to the needs of the students or the disciples.

This is especially true for Ashtanga Yoga which was established by Krishnamacharya for young boys who used to live in the grounds of the place owned by the Maharaja of Mysore. Since Ashtanga Yoga is targeted for very young boys in the prime of their youth, it is understandable that this yoga type is very demanding physically and mentally.

Ashtang Yoga may still sound strange to those who do not know much about yoga but to make it more concrete, Ashtanga Yoga is the type of yoga being practiced by Madonna. The well known singer Sting is also following the discipline of Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtangi Yoga is more popularly known in the Western World as Power Yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga helps the disciple or follower live a healthy and full life through the enhancement of the eight limbs. This yoga type essentially aims to rid the follower of the everyday stress he is faced with. By following the Ashtanga Yoga discipline, a person is expected to be more relaxed despite living a stressful life.

The eight limbs of Ashtana Yoga consist of the following:

1. Niyama which aims to take control of the life of a person and introduces the following virtues to the follower-personal restraint, patience, purity, and love of god.
2. Yama allows the disciple to focus on the goodness of man by looking at the following—truthfulness and non violence and keeping off from the worldly pleasures through celibacy.
3. Pranayma which refers to breathe control
4. Dharna which helps the disciple focus on his life and the overall goal of his life
5. Pratyahara which helps the follower isolate himself from the everyday noise and disorder and helps him to focus on what is positive
6. Dhyana which aims to help the disciple focus on his goals and how to achieve these goals
7.Samadhi which focuses on accomplishing bliss and overall peace
8.Asana which is basically the posture taken to relax the body and mind of the disciple

While Ashtanga Yoga is guaranteed to get a person to stretch himself physically and mentally, this yoga type does not really impose immediate success or achievement to the user. Rather, Ashtanga Yoga is meant to be practiced slowly and gradually until the student achieves his target.

Like most types of yoga, Ashtanga Yoga requires a lot of discipline from its students. But all the hard work and the discipline is well worth the effort just thinking abut what the student can achieve once he has maximize the benefits of Ashtanga to his life.