Praxisbuch Pranayama


Ashtanga Yoga


Power Yoga not only keeps you physically fit but also helps to find peace of mind and improve your health. This type of Yoga is dynamic, and ideal for people who like sports, stretch their muscles and want to relax.

In the asanas practice we use vinyasas (synchronization of breath and movement), drishtis (gazing points) and bandhas (energy locks). This practice not only develops a strong and healthy body and but also a flexible and stable mind. A regular practice leads to joy, inner peace and balance and supports self-transformation and self-realization.

Asthanga Yoga is a non-religious style that sees dynamic physical exercises and a fit and healthy body as the base for higher spiritual development, which are achieved with breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation. A modern name for Ashtanga Yoga is Power yoga. The difference between these two forms is that in Asthanga there is a strict form of exercises (e.g. Primary Series), while in Power yoga the form of the physical exercise is variable. They have a dynamic practice of Asanas in common, while styles like Iyengar or Hatha yoga are usually more static.

Ashtanga means literally "eight-limbed" and was outlined in the book The Yoga Sutras by the Indian sage Patanjali about 2000 years ago. Patanjali defines the goal of yoga as "the controlling of the mind activities" and the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga work together to reach this goal.

Yama and Niyama form the moral and ethic base for the yoga practice. The physical practice of Asanas make the body healthy, strong and flexible. In addition of cleansing the body and a purification of the mind the breathing exercises of Pranayama lift the practitioner to a higher spiritual level.

These first four limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are sometimes called outer yoga and equated with Hatha yoga. These parts of Asthanga Yoga prepared mind and body optimally for a higher spiritual development. The limps of the inner yoga – Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Shamadhi (enlightenment) – work on the spiritual and intellectual development of man.

Because this form of yoga is primarily concerned with the mind Ashtanga yoga falls into the category of Raja yoga. The term Rāja Yoga is a retronym, introduced in the book "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" to distinguish the school based on the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali from the younger form of Hatha Yoga.




© Jana A. Czipin

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last update: 29.09.2012