Ashtanga Yoga of Maharshi Patanjali is a classical work on yoga philosophy. The Yoga sutras put forth by Patanjali provides a deep understanding of the subject’s principles and practices that are strongly backed by science.
Yoga has been considered a way of life since ancient times. Simply put, yoga is a path that will lead you to reach the state of meditation, and meditation is the state where one realizes his/ her true self. The different forms of yoga like Hatha yoga, Mantra yoga, karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Ashtanga yoga can help the aspirants to bring peace and harmony to all aspects of their wellbeing.
Ashtanga Yoga is a highly structured vinyasa-style class. The concept of holistic health and wellbeing is attained using the right technique, science, and philosophy. The benefits of practicing Ashtanga yoga include enhancing the practitioner in all aspects of his personality such as physical, mental, emotional, and moral levels culminating in the spiritual journey. This increases the strength of the mind for clarity, provides flexibility, and reduces stress from your mind and body.
Ashtanga yoga is divided into the eight (Asht) steps and limbs (angas). Here’s a quick overview of these eight limbs of Yoga-
i) Yama- Restraining the moral impurities
The first limb of ashtanga yoga is yoga or restraint. Yama puts forth the five ethical precepts outlining a code of conduct that we should follow while interacting with society. The collective practice of the 5 virtues (Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya, and Aparigraha) is crucial to cleanse your mind and body, regulating the behavior and personality making it free from moral impurities
ii) Niyama- Personal observances and self-purification
While Yamas are something one must stay away from and focus more on the communication done with the society, Niyamas; observances talk about how we relate to ourselves and are concerned about one’s self and purification. This yogic discipline draws focus towards the removal of emotional impurities and enhances the quality of our intellect, emotions, and willpower
iii) Asana- Physician Postures
Asana is a body posture that brings the feeling of lightness, steadiness, wellbeing and can remain concentrated undisturbed. The regular practice of yoga will develop the best possible physical and mental health. A steady and comfortable enough yoga asana one chooses to relieve the mind of the burden of the body can help you to easily slide into abstraction or meditative state
iv) Pranayama– Breath control
Pranayama is useful in regulating the vital force upon the successful practice of Asana. As the breath and mind share a strong relationship and are directly related to each other, the slower the breathing, the steadier your mind. The regular practice of different types of Pranayama brings peace to your mind and increases your mental concentration
v) Pratyahara– Regulation, and withdrawal of senses
Pratyahara directs towards disciplining the senses by steadying the mind on one object and after withdrawing it from other objects. Your mind can only attain a calm state when you can control your sense organs.
vi) Dharana- Concentration
The practice of fixing your mind on one object for meditation is called Dharana or concentration. The power of the mind with undivided concentration is multiplied and leads to the attainment of meditation
vii) Dhyana- Meditation
Once the mind is trained to stay concentrated on one object, dhyana automatically flows in. Meditation is the unbroken flow of thoughts and contemplation of the chosen object. This technique helps in harmonizing the emotional, mental, and physical experiences
viii) Samadhi- Integration or Union
This is the highest stage of Yoga Sadhana where the mind and the object become one and the mind poses the consciousness of its existence. The last stage of Ashtanga Yoga is the deep realization via meditation and reaching a state of ecstasy
Practicing yoga’s eightfold path, also known as Ashtanga’s purpose, is to purify the mind and soul. This practice is ideal for enlightenment, and spiritual growth with attaining mental, physical, and emotional stability to live a sustainable life.
The Dharana way of life aims at achieving a balanced mind, calm soul, and reducing the ecological footprint leading to a sustainable lifestyle. Dharana at Shillim, an eco wellness retreat integrates holistic programmes for the overall cleansing of your mind, body, and spirit. To sum it all up, yoga should be looked at more as a way of life than as a physical workout. This dynamic change is a transformational path towards self-actualization, and the practice of elevating oneself into a spiritual perspective.