Ashtanga Yoga – The Meaning of Life

Aug 12, 2014 by splashchiselled

Ashtanga Yoga, practices correctly, leads a person to discover their full potential on all levels. Through breathing, postures and gazing point, you learn to regain complete control over all your senses and to become aware of yourself once again. Regular maintenance results in a steady mind and a steady body.

Ashtanga means eight limbs and, as described by Patanjali, they are:

  • Yama – abstinence
  • Niyama – Observance
  • Asana – Posture
  • Pranayama – Breath Control
  • Pratyahara – Sense Withdrawal
  • Dharana – Concentration
  • Dhyana – Meditation
  • Samadhi – Contemplation

Each one of these supports the others. You must establish Asana for Pranayama to work and this is key to developing proper practice of Yama and Niyama. These are the external limbs and, once properly rooted, the other four internal limbs will evolve.

Vinyasa translates as “breath synchronized movement”.  Breath is the very heart of this and links the asanas in a very precise order. If you can learn to synchronize breath and movement, and practice your Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas, you should experience internal heat. This is what purifies your organs and your muscles, getting rid of toxins and is responsible for minerals and hormones being released.  When you sweat during Yoga you must massage it back in to the body as this enhances the nourishing qualities of the hormones and minerals. B

Three Sequences

Ashtanga Yoga contains three sequences:

  • Primary Series – Yoga Chikitsa –  Detoxification and body alignment
  • Intermediate Series – Nadi Shodhana – Purification of the Nervous system
  • Advanced Series – Sthira Bhaga – Integration of strength and the grace of the entire practice

Each level must be developed before you can proceed to the next one. And asana order must be followed exactly. Each separate posture prepares you for the next on, in turn developing the balance and the strength required to move forward.


Deep and even breathing are vital to Ashtanga Yoga. Breath is life and the very act is fundamental to the sequence. Exhalation is the act of moving towards God and inhalation s inspiration from God. Our very last act in life is an exhalation – total surrender.


No effort is equal to no benefit. The three “S’s” of Ashtanga Yoga are Stamina, Strength and Sweat. It is a demanding Yoga and requires dedicated practice in order to tap into the energy that flows through the body.

Mysore Self Practice

Mysore Self practice is the most traditional and effective form of Ashtanga Yoga. It is suitable for all levels, from beginners to the most experienced.

Mysore self-practice has been described as “a private class in a group environment”.  Each person can work to their own pace at the same time as receiving attention and instruction. The teacher will also note and help you make any physical adjustments.

Daily practice is necessary for self-practice to work effectively. It must also be said that, if you wish to learn ashtanga Yoga, you must consult the services of a teacher who has been traditionally trained and is fully qualified.  This is the only way to ensure that you get the guidance you need for safe and steady progress without causing any injury, to either your mind or body.

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