Ashtanga Yoga, practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscover his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness – physical, psychological and spiritual. Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjay pranayama), postures (Asana) and gazing point (Drishti), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of ourselves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.
Ashtanga literally means “eight limbs”. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes them as: Yama (abstinences), Nyama (observances), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (Breath Control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (Contemplation). These branches support each other. Asana practice must be established for proper practice of pranayama, and is a key to the development of the first two levels, yamas and niyamas. Once these four externally oriented limbs (they are actions) are firmly rooted, the last four internally oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.
The main feature of Ashtanga Yoga is "Vinyasa". Vinyasa means breath synchronized movement. The breath is the heart of this discipline, and links asana to asana in a precise order. By synchronizing movement with breathing and practicing Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas (locks), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals, which can nourish the body when the sweat is massaged back into the skin. The breath regulates the vinyasa and the result is a light strong body.
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