Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashta means eight. Ashtanga means the eight ‘angas’ or parts of a body. Therefore, ashtanga yoga means the eight-limbed yoga. These eight limbs are

  1. Yama

Yama refers to the most basic principles that one should follow. Yama, therefore, refers to the foundation of yoga. Adhering to these principles at all times is a must.

2. Niyama

Niyama means rule or a guideline in Sanskrit. In general terms, Niyamas are the Dos and Dont’s for fruitful progress on the path of yoga. Niyamas form the second limb of the eight limbs of yoga.

3. Asana

Asana in Sanskrit means seat or a mat on which one sits. Yoga Asana refers to the Yoga poses performed to improve body functions and help the mind concentrate.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama is managing the flow of Prana. When the Prana flow through the Ida and Pingala Nadis is balanced, it opens the gateway for the Prana to rise through the Sushumna Nadi.

5. Pratyahara

Prati means that is away or against and Ahara denotes food. In the yogic context, Ahara denotes anything that can negatively affect the senses. Therefore Pratyahara means to keep all forms of negativity away.

6. Dharana

A beginner starts with focusing the mind for short durations.This stage of meditation is called Dharana. If one ignores any of the first five limbs, Dharana becomes almost impossible.

7. Dhyana

As one practices Dharana for days, months, or years, one becomes better at holding the focus of the mind without using any visualization or aid.

8. Samadhi

Samadhi is the final stage of Samyama. In a state of Samadhi, a yogi is under a trance, with a focused mind that they can hold for days or even months.