What is Ashtanga Yoga?

What is Ashtanga Yoga, and how is it different than other methods?

We first need to begin with the general definition of Yoga itself.

Simply stated, Yoga is a philosophy of living. It goes beyond a purely physical practice, and becomes a way to integrate our body, mind, and spirit; transcend our personal limitations; and eventually understand our own true nature.

The system of Ashtanga Yoga is often called Classical Yoga. The sage Patañjali defined Ashtanga Yoga in an ancient text he wrote called the Yoga Sutras.

For more information on What is Ashtanga Yoga, this brief History of Yoga will be helpful. Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy will also help broaden your understanding and give some context to your daily practice.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patañjali gives the classical definition of yoga and then defines the yogic practices or eight limbs necessary to achieve the goal of Yoga.

Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

1. Yama (moral restraints) – how we relate to others

2. Niyama (observances) – how we relate to ourselves

3. Āsana (posture) – how we relate to our body

4. Prāṇāyāma (breath extension) – how we relate to our breath or spirit

5. Pratyāhāra (sensory withdrawal) – how we relate to our sense organs

6. Dhāraṇā (concentration) – how we relate to our mind

7. Dhyāna (meditation) – moving beyond the mind

8. Samādhi (meditative absorption) – deep realization and inner union

For more information on the Eight Limbs, click here

Ashtanga Yoga, as practiced in our modern lives, will improve many aspects of physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Check out our Health Benefits of Yoga page for more details!

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