The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga actually means “eight limbs.” As a system of both physical and spiritual health maintenance, there is an underlying philosophy to Ashtanga Yoga that is divided into eight parts.
1. Yama: Restraints and moral discipline
This limb refers to the vows, discipline and practices that concern the world around us, and how we interact with it. While practicing yoga can increase physical strength/ flexibility and also aid in calming your mind; what’s the point if you’re still stiff, weak and stressed in daily life?
Ashtanga Yoga has five Yamas; including
2. Niyama: Positive duties or observances
The second limb usually refers to our duties towards ourselves, but can also be considered in actions towards the world. Niyamas are traditionally practiced by people who want to build character.
3. Asana: Posture
The physical aspect of yoga is the third limb of Ashtanga Yoga. This concept means being able to repose comfortably, so you’re not “pulled” by aches and discomfort of the body or suffer restlessness from an uncomfortable position.
4. Pranayama: Breathing Techniques
The word Prana means “energy.” It is used to describe the force that keeps us alive and the energy of the universe. Prana is associated with the breath also refers to working with the way we breathe. Ashtanga Yoga teaches that controlling the breath can affect the mind in a very real way.
5. Pratyahara: Sense withdrawal
Pratya means to withdraw or draw in. The second part ahara means anything we absorb; the various sights, sounds and smells we perceive continuously.
6. Dharana: Focused concentration
Dharana means focused concentration. Dha means maintaining, and Ana means something else. Visualization and focusing on the breath are practices of dharana and are what we generally think of as meditation.
7. Dhyana: Meditative absorption
The seventh limb is when we become completely absorbed in whatever we’re meditating on.
8. Samadhi: Enlightenment
This is thought of as the final step of the Ashtanga Yoga journey. Ashtanga Yoga may have lofty spiritual goals built into it – but we’re going to look at some of the scientifically verified benefits of this ancient practice that will allow to you reap some incredible real-world health benefits.