It has occurred to me that there is some confusion between Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Patanjali's 'Ashtanga Yoga'. Guruji always used to say “Ashtanga Yoga is Patanjali Yoga”.
By this he meant that the Ashtanga Vinyasa method was born from the wisdom of the great sage PATANJALI and aligned with The 8 Limbs of Yoga as written about in THE YOGA SUTRAS.
Without studying this rich ancient text the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga can have no life, context or heritage.
So lets start at the beginning...
THE EIGHT LIMBS OF ASHTANGA YOGA
In Sanskrit the word Ashtanga translates as ‘eight limb’ - from Ashtau (meaning ‘eight’) and anga (meaning ‘limb’).
More than two thousand years ago the great Indian sage Patanjali wrote about the path towards self-realisation (yoga) as having eight limbs. In The Yoga Sutras each limb of yoga is a progressive step that each yoga practitioner undertakes as a means to unravel what is ‘real’ from what is in actuality a very convincing projection (or creation) of our mind. This 8-limbed path guides us towards a state of bliss where we experience the true nature Yoga.
The 8 steps are:
1. YAMA – ethical principles
2. NIYAMA – self-study or observances
3. ASANA – posture
4. PRANAYAMA – breath control
5. PRATYAHARA – sense withdrawl
6. DHARANA – concentration
7. DHYANA – meditation
8. SAMADHI – pure bliss
Over the next few days we’ll look at these limbs in more detail.
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