Ashtanga Yoga: A Guide and Postures

By: Lesley Lyon


Yoga is an ancient form of discipline that is both physical practice and spiritual journey, using primarily meditation to clear the mind of negativity. There are quite a number of varieties of yoga that are being practiced and ashtanga yoga is one of them.

Ashtanga means eight limbs in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. Ashtanga yoga is an extremely rigorous form of yoga unlike the power yoga which is less strenuous and ashtanga yoga is practiced more rapidly and consists of difficult poses that gradually become harder as the work out is continued.

It is compulsory to follow a specific series of workout like sun salutation, seated poses, poses in the twisting order and head stands- in that order. Ashtanga yoga synchronizes the breath with a series of postures that produce a lot of internal heat in the body and a profuse sweating that purifies and detoxifies the muscles and organs.

This process and ultimately, the body improve circulation of the blood and becomes a light and strong body, calms the mind. Ashtanga yoga is aimed at developing discipline and vitality in a person. The rigid rules of ashtanga yoga extend even to the personal lifestyle of a person, like eating and sleeping habits, sexual practices, spiritual life and medical strategies.

Ashtanga yoga has to be learnt only from a guru who has been traditionally trained to teach others and the yoga is highly structured. Ashtanga yoga follows a particular sequence and is of three categories based on the postures, namely, the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Each level teaches the different poses of ashtanga yoga which increases in difficulty, challenging the student to improve further.

The sequence of poses is thus. First come the sun salutations, next the standing postures and then the seated postures. The student moves on to inverted postures and back bends and relaxation which come next. Ashtanga yoga can also be practiced at home but it needs a separate place that is bright, well ventilated and clear of furniture. A full length mirror can be installed in the room to check the body position during the course of the process. Visual aids, wall charts and books can be utilized to get a good knowledge of the different types of poses of ashtanga yoga.

Ashtanga yoga lays emphasis on the correct body position and therefore, it takes a lot of time to practice and develop the exact body position. But if done in the correct manner and when the rules are followed properly, ashtanga yoga has a lot of benefits to offer and makes a great impact on the entire body of a person. Ashtanga yoga is ideal for home practitioners.

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