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21 Dec 2021
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Introduction

Yoga serves as one of the best tools via which people can gain control over their mind, body, and soul. While there exist many different forms of yoga today, this article seeks to examine all that Ashtanga yoga entails.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Featured under Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Ashtanga yoga refers to the eightfold path that dictates how to lead a meaningful life. This form of yoga provides its practitioners with a moral and ethical code of conduct.

Types of Ashtanga Yoga

There exist 8 different limbs of yoga that constitute Ashtanga yoga. Each of these has been examined below.

1. Yama -

This pertains to ethical standards and one’s sense of integrity. Yama refers to universal practices that ought to be followed. They can be summarized as follows.

  • Ahimsa (nonviolence)

  • Aparigraha (no covetousness)

  • Asteya (no stealing)

  • Brahmacharya (continence)

  • Satya (truthfulness)

 

2. Niyama

This is the second limb of Ashtanga yoga and focuses on self-discipline and spiritual observances. There are five niyamas that practitioners are expected to follow. They are -

  • Saucha (cleanliness)

  • Santosa (contentment)

  • Tapas (spiritual austerity)

  • Svadhyaya (study of oneself and scriptures)

Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)

3. Asana

This limb focuses on the postures that are practised in yoga. These postures help us improve our ability to concentrate.

4. Pranayama

The fourth limb of Ashtanga yoga focuses on breath control.

5. Pratyahara -

This limb of yoga helps increase the power of the mind.

6. Dharana

The sixth limb of yoga teaches you how to concentrate on a single mental object.

7. Dhyana

Here, you learn how to move your mind’s attention away from all external objects and redirect your attention to a single point.

8. Samadhi

This is defined as a state of ecstasy as the meditator merges with their point of focus.

Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

Those that practice Ashtanga yoga on a regular basis experience the following benefits.

Greater Flexibility

By practising Ashtanga yoga on a regular basis you can greatly improve your flexibility over time.

Increases Strength

Several Ashtanga yoga poses help develop overall body strength.

Increases Muscle Tone

Each of the movements that Ashtanga yoga incorporates improves the quality of your muscles.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

This form of yoga helps you gain control of your mind and helps reign in fear, worry and anxiety.

How to Practice Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is reliant on several different positions. Modern forms of Ashtanga yoga seek to channel hyperactive minds. In order to successfully perform Ashtanga yoga, one must make use of Vinayasana and Tristhana.

  • Vinayasana involves taking a deep breath each time you move. Vinyasas help with internal cleansing and help enhance blood circulation.

  • Tristhana refers to the union of posture, breath, and line of vision. Each of these areas plays a major role in Ashtanga yoga.

People who seek to practice Ashtanga yoga are required to complete six asanas (0r poses) which help purify the body. Each of these has been examined below and must be followed with care.

 

  • Surya Namaskar

There are 10 steps that fall under a single Surya Namaskar.

 

  • Standing Positions -

These include Padangustha, Padahastasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana, Prasarita Padottanasana and Parsvottanasana.

 

  • Yoga Chikitsa

This is the hardest form of Ashtanga yoga.

 

  • Nadi Shodana

This is a more energetic form of Ashtanga yoga.

 

  • Sthira Bhaga

Several of the asanas practised here defy gravity.

 

  • Finishing positions

These Ashtanga yoga poses are primarily done to harmonize the energy that resides within an individual.

Beginner’s Tip for Ashtanga Yoga

As a beginner, Ashtanga yoga may seem intimidating as it involves several different postures some of which aren’t easy to get the hang of immediately. Owing to this very fact, beginners are encouraged to pace themselves. Comparisons with other practitioners should not be made as different people have different capabilities and strengths.

How Often Should I Do Ashtanga Yoga?

Ideally, Ashtanga yoga is recommended to be performed six times a week. This holds true for beginners as well as seasoned practitioners. Women who are menstruating are advised to take a 3-day break from Ashtanga yoga as it is strenuous.

Precautions to Take to Perform Ashtanga Yoga

Before you perform Ashtanga yoga you should take into account the following considerations.

 

  • Perform each Ashtanga yoga pose with care to avoid injury.

  • People experiencing headaches should not practice Ashtanga yoga.

  • If you have injured your shoulder or knee in any way, you should avoid practising this form of yoga.

  • Pregnant women should not practice Ashtanga yoga.

Conclusion

Ashtanga yoga benefits practitioners in several different ways and contributes to a healthy lifestyle. However, since life is unpredictable it is best to stay safe and invest in a good health insurance plan as you never know when you might need it. 

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FAQs on Ashtanga Yoga

  • ✔️How often should you practice Ashtanga yoga?

    Ashtanga yoga ought to be performed 6 times a week.

  • ✔️Can I practice Ashtanga yoga if I have a headache?

    You are advised not to practice Ashtanga yoga if you are experiencing a headache.

  • ✔️Name two benefits associated with the practice of Ashtanga yoga.

    Two benefits associated with the practice of Ashtanga yoga are as follows.

    1. Helps increase muscle tone

    2. Reduces stress and anxiety

  • ✔️What are the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga?

    The 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

  • ✔️Is Ashtanga yoga ideal for pregnant women?

    Pregnant women should abstain from practising Ashtanga yoga.