Ashtanga yoga practices postures (asana), breath (ujjayi pranayama), focal/gazing point (driste). The discipline of this system allows us to develop a deeper understanding and awareness of ourselves. It is both empowering, and liberating and allows us to move through life with a calmness and steadiness of mind and body.
The linking of breathing and movement creates an internal, purifying heat which detoxifies and purifies the muscles and internal organs. Internal locks (bandhas) are used throughout the yoga practice. The breath is the heart Ashtanga yoga.
Ashtanga translates as “eight limbs”. Below are the eight limbs as described by the sage Pattanjali:
- Yama (abstinences)
- Niyama (observances)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation)
“If the mind folds itself to a point of concentration or becomes standstill, as it were, it can keep the body and the sesnses under its control, so that there will not be a possibility of their getting disease. If the mind becomes weak, it will be the cause of of many diseases, hallucinations and other mental distortions which give rise to physical diseases. The process of disaplining and purifying the mind is called yoga.”
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois