Thursday, April 9, 2009

Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga | Eight Limbs of Yoga

What is Ashtanga Yoga?


Ashtanga yoga was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is based on the eight limbs (steps) of yoga and involves a series of movements that generate sufficient internal heat within the body so as to purify the muscles and organs. In astanga yoga, it is necessary to master the first step before moving on to the next step. Hence, ashtanga yoga is not necessarily a set of poses that must be performed but rather a system of performing the asanas so as to gain complete equilibrium. The steps of ashtanga yoga are control (yama), rules (niyama), poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama), withdrawing sensory perceptions (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), mediation (dhyana), and equilibrium (samadhi).

Ashtanga Yoga Poses

There are no specific ashtanga yoga postures. Rather the ashtanga yoga poses are grouped together into series, and each level must be fully mastered before moving on the next. In fact, the most critical aspect of ashtanga yoga is strictly following the routine; this is because each pose in ashtanga yoga serves to prepare the body for the next pose.

The practice of ashtanga yoga begins with the sun salutation (surya namaskar), followed by six standing postures that serve as the basis for all other poses. After this, a practitioner is required to follow the four series of ashtanga yoga; these include the primary series or yoga chikitsa, the intermediate series or nadi shodana, the advanced A series or sthira bhaga, and the advanced B series, also known as sthira bhaga. Finally, the finishing positions are performed. It is necessary that ashtanga yoga be practiced under the supervision of a yoga guru and at a yoga learning center.

Ashtanga Yoga Benefits

While most forms of yoga are ideal for improving the body’s flexibility and rejuvenating the mind and soul, they do not lay emphasis on physical strength and muscle training. Ashtanga yoga, however, ensures that you not only obtain a calm and peaceful mind but also a strong and toned body. In fact, it is widely practiced these days as an effective weight management and core strength building routine.

When practicing ashtanga yoga you not only improve overall flexibility but also stamina and endurance. Moreover, ashtanga yoga also helps in building muscle strength, which is often ignored in other forms of yoga. In addition, in comparison to other muscle building routines, ashtanga yoga does not give you a bulky look. It is ideal for toning and strengthening the body, while remaining lean. Thus, it is often regarded as a complete fitness program as it helps in increasing the body’s strength, endurance, and flexibility as well as calming and disciplining the mind and soul.


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