Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient and powerful system of self-transformation. Its purpose is to uncover the truth of who we are and to empower us to live in harmony with the universe around us. Making yoga a part of your life will help you feel greater flexibility, balance and concentration. It can help you discover inner strength and peace.
Description of yoga and foundations of 8 limbs
The term Ashtanga Yoga is derived from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (500BC) 11.29 "Yoga has eight limbs" Ashtau-eight, anga-limbs. The eight limbs are a systematically organized path that leads to inner freedom and happiness.They are restraints, observances, posture, breath extension, shifting the focus within, concentration, meditation and absorption.
Yama [moral codes or restraints]
Niyama [self-purification and study, observances]
Pranayama [breath control]
Pratyahara [sense control, shifting the focus with]
The first four limbs—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama—are considered external cleansing practices. According to Pattabhi Jois, defects in the external practices are correctable. However, defects in the internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana—are not correctable and can be dangerous to the mind unless the correct Ashtanga yoga method is followed (Stern and Summerbell 35). For this reason, Pattabhi Jois emphasizes that the "Ashtanga Yoga method is Patanjali Yoga"
In Ashtanga Yoga, set series of postures are woven together using flowing movements to create one sequence. This sequencing of yoga postures is called Vinyasa. Each connecting move is synchronised with the breath to become a meditation in movement - like a sacred dance. The postures are designed in a specific order to realign and detoxify the body and nervous system. The practice develops a balance between strength and flexibility and improves cardiovascular fitness.
Focusing on the breath, the mind clears and becomes calm. An internal stillness develops within this exercise of dynamic movement. Deep relaxation results.
Message from Guruji on Power Yoga
What is yoga?
“It is impossible to give a precise answer to this simple question, mainly because Yoga is so incredible comprehensive and encompasses such a tremendous variety of approaches. The word itself, which stems from the ancient Sanskrit language, means both 'union' and 'discipline'. Thus yoga conveys 'unitive spiritual discipline' or ' the spiritual discipline of integration." What the tradition of Yoga seeks to integrate is head and heart, as well as psyche and world, on the basis of a profound spiritual realization that transcends head, heart, psyche, and world.
That realization is variously called self-realization, God -realization, enlightenment, or liberation. It consists in discovering a marvelous truth about ourselves: We are not merely a particular body, mind, or personality, but the very foundation of all bodies, minds, and personalities-in fact, of all animate and inanimate things in the universe. The great masters of Yoga insist that we are first and foremost the One Being that is the ultimate substance of the universe. And that substance is pure Consciousness. What a vision of our human potential!
The masters of Yoga arrived at their insights about Oneness not through mere fanciful speculation but through direct realization. Yoga has from the beginning been intensively experiential and even experimental. Acknowledging Yoga’s extraordinary heritage, Carl Gustav Jung remarked that it is ‘one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.’
Yoga is the art of fashioning the alabaster block of our body-mind into a beautiful lucid sculpture that reflects the Light of the ultimate, singular Being, which is eternally blissful and supreme conscious. To practice Yoga, we must become craftsmen and women of great skill and sensitivity. We master the art of Yoga as we gain self-knowledge and the capacity for self-transcendence. Searching deep into our mind and heart, we learn to exceed our ordinary boundaries and discover that we are immeasurably vast, surpassing even Nature itself. We realize that Nature, grand and fascinating as it is, is only a temporary aspect of the ultimate One, which transcends space and time.”