Ashtanga vinyasa yoga: an intense practice with many benefits
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga differs from other practices because of its intensity level and its dynamic essence: it is a discipline that follow a sequence of movements synchronizing body postures and breathing. The sequence is always the same and the practitioner adds postures as his practice progresses.
Along with the sequence, other key elements of the discipline are a type of breathing that generates heat in the body, the control of energy through specific postures and the point where the gaze is focused. As a whole the practice purify the physical, mental and emotional body.
It was created millennia ago by the Indian master Siri. K. Pattabhi Jois and transmitted by his disciples to the present, when more and more people practice it to release stress and foster their strength, endurance and emotional control.
THE 8 BRANCHES OF ASHTANGA YOGA
Ashta means eight and anga It means branch in Sanskrit, the sacred language of India. Therefore, ashtanga yoga is much more than a physical training: it is a integral system composed of eight branches that must be practiced together and lead to freedom within the heart.
By practicing the eight ashtanga branches the impurities of the body and of the mind that prevent access to the true nature of each one's soul are cleaned.
Patanjali, a wise yogi, gathered in his book Yoga Sutras, the eight branches or eight steps to achieve self-realization of being through ashtanga yoga. These are:
1. Yamas: they are moral codes that regulate how one relates to others: nonviolence, openness, no stealing, contingency and detachment.
2. Niyamas: they are codes that one should keep in his daily life, such as the purification of the body, contentment, self-discipline, the study of sacred texts and devotion to God.
3. Asanas: They are the physical postures. This step refers to everyday physical practice. Strict ashtanga vinyasa yoga practitioners usually practice every day of the week, except Sundays and the days of the new moon and full moon.
4. Pranayama: It is the control of vital energy through breathing. Practicing pranayama exercises and conscious breathing is the fourth step of ashtanga.
5. Pratyahara: It is the retraction of the senses. This step refers to the daily practice of withdrawing attention from external objects to come into contact with the interior itself.
6. Dharana: It means mental concentration and is an essential step to reach the state of meditation. This step proposes to train concentration by staying focused on any object chosen.
7. Dhyana: It means meditation. The whole practice of ashtanga suggests a state of constant meditation, which involves meditating on the positions of the body, on the vital energy, on the senses, the breath and the mind.
8. Samadhi: It is the state of total liberation before any condition that arises. Samadhi is the total union of being with God.
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