What Is Ashtanga Yoga 8 Limbs?

Ashtanga Yoga is the type of yoga which was urbanized and founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. This kind of yoga is known as the Eight Limb Yoga the path of purification that is made up of the eight spiritual practices.

The first four limbs that represent Ashtanga Yoga are – yama, niyama, Asana and the Pranayama.

These are considered cleansing practices which are externally correctable.

The other set of limbs which are the – pratyahara, dhyana, dharana are the internal practices.

K. Pattabhi Jois declared that practicing these Eight Limbs as well as its sub-limbs of the external practices which contain the niyama and yama is impossible.

In doing so, the body should be strong so that it can technically perform the methods well enough. If the body is weak, and the sense organs are not functioning well, practicing will never be productive at all.

This is a primary philosophy that K. Pattabhi Jois has applied, it is of prime importance for the Asthanga practitioner to learn and understand this way of thinking.

This will make you confident in that the body will significantly improve and become stronger and healthier.

What Is Ashtanga Yoga? Understanding the Methods

Ashtanga yoga, also known as power yoga, is quickly gaining popularity among practitioners. So what is Ashtanga yoga? It is the form of yoga most used by athletes and those interested in quickly increasing strength and stamina. Because of that, Ashtanga yoga postures have a higher degree of difficulty than those in other styles. Additionally, they are done as part of series.

Usually, students doing Ashtanga yoga postures will move quickly from one to the other to maintain that focus on strength. That is in opposition to many other forms of yoga where the emphasis is on breathing, relaxation, and flexibility.

Who Should Practice Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga poses are for most anyone who is in decent shape. If you are new to exercise, this is probably not the form of yoga with which you should start. Even the very easiest of Ashtanga poses are very demanding on the body, especially since you will even start with a body warming routine that is designed to activate your muscles.

Overall, Ashtanga yoga can provide you with a build up of strength, stamina, and even some flexibility which explains its popularity with those involved in athletics.

If you decide to give Ashtanga a try, you should expect things to progress quickly. You will likely start right off with a sequence of yoga poses. Those will be practiced until the teacher feels you have mastered it fairly well and have complete understanding of its fundamentals. Then, you will move on to another series and a higher level of difficulty. Overall, it is a very fast moving form of yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Poses

As for the Ashtanga yoga poses, they range widely in terms of positioning. You will find yourself moving from standing, back bends, inverted, balancing, seated, and even twisting poses.

In power yoga, the sun salutation sequence of poses is very popular as well, so you will often use standing forward bend, upward dog, downward dog, and many other poses sprinkled in as well.

Though much of the focus in Ashtanga yoga poses is on the development of stamina and strength, you will also, as with any yoga, be focusing. You will be asked to focus your eyes on a point as you move through the poses given out by your instructor.

In order to get the full effect and benefit of Ashtanga, you should make sure that your muscles and perhaps even the rooms are very warm. This ensures maximum flexibility and minimal injury as you work through the demanding postures.

If you are into athletics, exercise, or just want a new physical challenge, perhaps you should consider giving Ashtanga yoga a try. The clear choice of athletes and an increasingly popular form in general, it is perfect for those that are in decent shape and want to increase their strength, stamina, and flexibility.

Ashtanga yoga is a series of poses taken in a quick and free flowing sequence. Even the classes move quickly with teachers adding more difficult sequences every time one is fairly well mastered.

So if you learn fast, like to work hard, and think you are up to the challenge of power yoga, then you may benefit greatly from Ashtanga yoga poses.

What Makes Ashtanga Yoga Different?

Ashtanga Yoga is the type of yoga which was created and established by a master named K. Pattabhi Jois. Due to it’s theory containing eight different limbs, or components, it is also known as “Eight-Limb Yoga”.

It doesn’t imply that the practitioner has a double set of limbs, but master Pattabhi Jois showed that the optimum path of purification is made up of the eight spiritual practices.

The basic idea is that these limbs only can be kept in balance by the appropriate application of the Ashtanga Yoga method.

Ashtanga Yoga Background

Ashtanga Yoga is a method of yoga that was recorded by Vamana Rishi in an ancient manuscript call the Yoga Korunta. This article was said to contain lists of a variety of groupings of asanas and highly original teachings on the subjects of vinyasa, bandhas, drishti, mudras and philosophy.

The text of this article was handed down to Sri T. Krishnamacharya by his teacher Rama Mohan Brahmachari in the early 1900s. It later came into the possession of Pattabhi Jois when he studied with Krishnamacharya beginning in 1927. Jois has been teaching this type of yoga since 1948 from his yoga shala.

The literal meaning of Ashtanga Yoga is eight-limbed yoga as put forth by sage Patanjali. According to him, the path of internal cleansing in order to reveal the universal self is based on the following eight spiritual practices:

The first four limbs that symbolize Ashtanga Yoga

  • Moral codes or “yama”
  • Self-purification or “niyama”
  • Posture or “asana”
  • Breath control or “pranayama”

The other set of limbs which are the internal practices

  • Sense control or “pratyahara”
  • Meditation or “dhyana”
  • Concentration or “dharana”
  • Contemplation or “samadhi

One leg standing forward bend

Vinsaya and Tristhana are practiced in Ashtanga Yoga

The Vinsaya is a style that makes Ashtanga and its fundamental principles different from the others. Vinsaya basically means the movement and breathing which is used effectively together in order to cleanse the body. Each movement done is accompanied by only one breath.

Sweat is the most important product of Vinsaya. When you produce sweat, it only indicates that you are successfully applying the method. When you perform the Asanas, or postures, the body produces heat which causes your blood to “boil” and excrete the toxins outside of your body.

The contamination are found in your sweat. So the more sweat you produce, the more toxins are released.

This is the natural way for the body to get rid of unwanted substances.

These yoga poses are used to fully develop the strength and health of the body.

The series of practices make this possible. There are three postures used in Ashtanga Yoga.

The three are classified on different levels.

The first is the Primary Series which aims on aligning the body and also detoxifying it.

The second is the Intermediate Series opening and cleaning the energy channels which comes to the process of purifying the Nervous System.

The last series would be the Advanced Series from A to D. in this series, the grace and strength is measured.

The Tristhana is another yoga principle which represents the union of the three places of action and attention. First is the posture, second is the breathing technique ad last is the Dristhi of the Looking Place. All these three should work altogether to perform a function.

Breathing techniques are simultaneous and synchronized. It is important to make a single breath for one movement. Ujjayi Breathing is the Yoga Breathing Technique used in the application of Ashtanga Yoga. Applying this technique must be prolonged after every practice.

What you need to master is holding your pose longer at the same time hold your breath. This is an amazing breathing exercise that will increase your internal fire and will strengthen the Nervous System.

Both Ashtanga and Tristhana deal with the series of Dristhi. The Dristhi is described as the point on which you gain your focus or attention while doing the Asana. This enables your mind to be purified and stabilized clearly.

Setting the mind clear and cleansing it can only be done in the Eight-Limb Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.

Vinsaya and Tristhana are performed in Ashtanga Yoga.

The poses are used to fully develop the physical strength and health of the body. It is the sequence of practices that make this possible. There are three postures used in Ashtaga Yoga.

The three are grouped on different levels

Clearing your mind (that is sometimes compared to an over active monkey) and cleansing it is the ultimate goal in the Eight-Limb Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.

This is a process that produces a kind of intense internal heat as well as a drenching, purifying sweat that is supposed to detoxify the muscles and organs of the body. The result is a light and strong body, improved circulation and a calm mind.

The Vinsaya is a style that makes Ashtanga and its fundamental principles different from the others. Vinsaya basically means the movement and breathing which is used effectively together in order to cleanse the body.

Each movement done is accompanied by only one breath. Sweat is the most important product of Vinsaya. When you produce sweat, it only indicates that you are successfully applying the method.

When you perform the Asanas, or postures, the body produces heat which causes your blood to “boil” and excrete the toxins outside of your body. The contamination are found in your sweat. So the more sweat you produce, the more toxins are released. This is the natural way for the body to get rid of unwanted substances.

The poses are used to fully develop the physical strength and health of the body. It is the sequence of practices that make this possible. There are three postures used in Ashtaga Yoga.

The Tristhana is another yoga principle which symbolizes the close union of the three places of action and attention. First is the posture, second is the breathing technique ad last is the Dristhi of the Looking Place. All these three should work altogether to perform a function.

Clearing your mind (that is sometimes compared to an over active monkey) and cleansing it is the ultimate goal in the Eight-Limb Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.

Chatarunga pose

Conclusion

This is a process that produces a kind of intense internal heat as well as a drenching, purifying sweat that is supposed to detoxify the muscles and organs of the body. The result is a light and strong body, improved circulation and a calm mind.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this post or this site in general.

I will answer all the comments on my website personally so drop me a line below if you have any Yoga questions or comments.

I’m happy to help any way that I can.

copywright

Namaste Shane.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice.  Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

 

4 thoughts on “What Is Ashtanga Yoga 8 Limbs?”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing such an informative post on Ashtanga yoga. I am still a newbie with yoga but once I master all the basic I would love to give Ashtanga yoga a try. I am fit personally but I do not expect myself to run a marathon without training either, according to the youtube video it seems complicated. Do you have any suggestion for a newbie? 

    Reply
  2. I’ve seen lots of Yoga training programs out there. I wondered if they all follow the very same principle or some like the Ashtanga Yoga 8 Limbs.  After reading this article, I see it has more benefits for athletes. I am a weight lifter and I’m not that balanced. Do you know if the Ashtanga Yoga 8 limbs would benefit a non-flexible person like me, while providing me with a more comfortable balanced? I said comfortable balanced, because I don’t want to bend in such a way where I may inflict pain on my joints, due to the fact that this program is fast moving. I like the overall benefits one can get from it.

    Reply
    • Hello John, 

      Thank you for reading my post and the great questions you have asked. 

      Ashtanga yoga is regarded as a more power style of yoga.  

      As far as flexibility goes weightlifting will restrict some of the postures. 

      Flexibility at any level is good for reducing injuries as we get older. 

      A misconception about yoga is it completive which it is not. 

      Stretch to your level and not someone who may have been doing yoga for many years. 

      Namaste Shane.

      Reply

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