What is Ashtanga Yoga?
"Ashta" means "Eight" and "Anga" means
"Limbs" forming the meaning of "Ashtanga Yoga" as the "Eight
Limb Approached Yoga". These Eight Limbs described by Patanjali Yoga Sutras are:
Yama refers to Abstinences. It teaches us sobriety and ethical standards. The five Yamas are
- Ahimsa: Non-violence
- Satya: Truth
- Asteya: Non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: Celibacy
Personal rules. The rules you follow for yourself like self-discipline and self-observances is the
second limbs of yoga.
Sutra 32 of Chapter 2 of Patanjali Yoga Sutras defines the five niyamas, we
The five niyamas (observances) are
- Shaucha - Internal and
- Santosha - Contentment
- Tapah - Austerity
- Svadhyay - Self Study
- Ishvara Pranidhanani -
Devotion to God
3. Asanas :
Asanas refers to Physical Postures. Not all physical postures are asanas, as per
Patanjali Yoga Sutras 46 of Chapter 2
Asanas are those physical postures which are steady and Comfortable
Asanas prepare the body for yoga practice, meditation, pranayama, dhyana and other spiritual aspects.
It is the beginning of learning yoga.
Pranayama refers to Breath Control. It is the combination of two words, "Prana" means "Life Force, i.e.
Breath" and "Yama" means "Control". As per the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Retention and Splitting of breath
in the proper way is termed as Pranayama.
5. Pratyahara :
Pratyahara refers to the withdrawal of senses. The stage when your mind or the senses stop engaging
with the external environment, indeed, turned it towards the inner consciousness. With this, it becomes
easier to control the senses.
The human body has "Pancha Kosha" or five layers building the inner consciousness,
- Annamaya Kosha - the food
- Pranamaya Kosha - the
- Manomaya Kosha - the mind
- Vijnyanmaya Kosha - the
- Anandamaya Kosha - the
6. Dharana :
Dharana refers to Concentration. Our mind is fickle, it changes frequently. With the practice of
Dharana, one becomes able to pay attention to one particular thing or aspect. This can be done with the
practice of Mantra Chanting or Meditation.
7. Dhyana :
Dhyana refers to Meditation. In this, your mind remains still and you achieve deep rest and relaxation.
8. Samadhi :
Samadhi refers to Contemplation. The last or the ultimate stage of Consciousness, where you will only
be aware of your thoughts and powers. You connect to your true nature, true nature of love, joy and
When a person connected the four external limbs, the other four spontaneously evolves.