Ashtanga Yoga is a style of yoga, and can be considered the Raja Yoga tradition of Patanjali, an ancient practitioner of yoga, considered the father of yoga practice.This form of yoga has eight different ( ashtanga means eight limbs) practices of which physical yoga( poses) and pranayama ( breath control) are only two. The eight limbs and their meanings are indicated below:
- Yama – moral codes
- Niyama – self purification and study
- Asana – posture
- Pranayama – breath control
- Pratyahara – withdrawing the mind from the senses
- Dharana – concentration
- Dhyana – Deep meditation
- Samadhi – union with the object of meditation
Ashtanga Yoga was codified and popularized and also introduced to the western world by Pattabhi Jois who lived in Mysore, a little town in the south of India. Hence it is also termed as the Mysore style of Yoga. Vinyasa is an important component in Ashtanga yoga. Vinyasa means breathing system. For every movement there is one breath. Thus every asana is assigned a number of breaths or vinyasas.
What to look for in an Ashtanga Yoga Studio?
- Location and Price – daily attendance is very important for making yoga a habit. Hence the location should be convenient and the price reasonable.
- A good community to do yoga with is important as yoga is a community activity and the experience is enhanced when done with a group.
- Choose a yoga teacher you can connect with. A good yoga teacher will tailor the movements to suit the different abilities of students.
- There is emphasis on controlled breathing.
- It has a good reputation and is recommended by someone you know and trust.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
The belief is that breathing and movement synchronization leads to heating up of the blood which removes impurities and allows it to flow freely, unlike impure blood which is thick and sluggish in our veins and arteries. The removal of impurities is through sweating. Ashtanga Yoga is also known as power yoga. Its benefits have been seen and felt far and wide and people will continue to reap its benefits for decades to come.
Read also about vinyasa yoga.