Ashtanga Yoga is a modern form of yoga inspired from the Indian discipline and developed by the well-known K. Pattabhi Jois. In Sanskrit, ‘ashtanga’ means ‘eight-limbed’.
Therefore, this yoga practice emphasizes eight different aspects: moral codes, union with the meditation object, study and self-purification, deep meditation, posture, concentration, breath control and the separation of the senses from the mind.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga Yoga mainly concentrates on synchronizing one’s breath with diverse and progressive posture series. In turn, this process is meant to produce a very intense internal heat, plus a purifying and profuse sweat meant to detoxify not only the internal organs, but also the muscles. In the end, this can result in having a calmer mind, a strong and light body and a better circulation.
In order to practice this type of yoga, you have to perfect the yama and the niyama, meaning the moral codes and the self-purification. This must be done daily, but it also has to be followed by the use of the vinyasa and the tristhana, meaning of the correct forms of breathing and of the correct postures.
There are five basic principles that Ashtanga Yoga has. The first one is represented by breath. This is an essential part while practicing this kind of yoga that sustains the idea that the action of breathing should be done simply through the nose. Through the contraction of the epiglottis, the breath flows and regulates.
The next two principles are represented by bandhas and drishti. Badhas represent the muscular contractions which can positively affect the psychic and the physical parts. Drishti refers to the ability of keeping your mind steady, without letting it be distracted by smells, sounds or any other interference that might occur. There are nine different drishti points intrinsic to every pose: the navel, the toes and toe tips, the third eyes, the finger tips, the thumbs, up to the sky, far left and far right.
Finally, the last principles are represented by the vinyasa and by the intention. The vinyasa promotes a dynamic and flowing yoga practice that can provide full benefits to the practitioners. Lastly, the intention refers to the purpose of the yoga practice that must be set before commencing the actual yoga ritual.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
There are different mental and physical benefits that those practicing Ashtanga Yoga can benefit of. The most important of them are represented by the reduction of the stress impact and of the multiple chronic diseases, the strengthening of the cardiovascular system, the improvement of flexibility and strength, of the immune system functions, of joints, of metabolism and of digestion.
Moreover, this kind of yoga can also improve athletic performances, alleviate anxiety and depression and promote weight regulation and weight loss.
Ashtanga Yoga has three main sets of poses: the primary series, the intermediate and the advanced ones. The primary set focuses on those poses meant to restore health and purify the entire body. These poses are organized in a progressive order, meaning that each pose builds on the one before. In turn, they strengthen the body and make it feel balanced.
The intermediate set of poses must be practiced after the body was strengthen and cleaned. As soon as this foundation is established, the intermediate poses can open and then clear the body’s energy channels.
Finally, the advanced poses are meant to strengthen the practitioner’s inner spirit. In order to be able to practice them though, the practitioner must be steady both in mind and body, focus intensely and act humble.