In Sanskrit "Ashta + anga" is Ashtanga. "Ashta" means Eight and "Anga" is
limbs so it means Eight Limb path, ashtanga yoga is based on Yoga
Philosophy of Patanjali. The asanas, Pranayamas or the dharana which we
have studied earlier or the yam and niyam are based on the Yoga Sutras of
Patanjali. Hence, we will acquaint ourselves with the fundamentals as
stated by Patanjali first.
History of Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga has its roots about 5000 years BC as described in Vedic Philosophy
and Tantras. Patanjali , great sage composed this path into a
Darshan(Philosophy) in his Book Patanjal Yoga Sutra. In which he has
formulated Yoga as a Eight Limbs or Eight Fold path.
Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
1. Yama (Principles or moral code)
Ahimsa - A principle of non-violence
Satya - A principle of Truthfulness
Asteya - A principle of non stealing
Brahmacharya - Continence / Celibacy
Aparigah - A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness
2. Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
Shoucha - Purity
Santosh - Contentment
Tapa - Endurance
Swadhyaya - Self study
Eshwar Pranidhan - Dedication
3. Asana - (Yoga Postures / positions)
A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.
4. Pranayama - (Yoga Breathing)
Extension and control of breath.
5. Pratyahara - (Withdrawal of Senses)
A mental preparation to increase the power of mind.
6. Dharana - (Concentration on Object)
Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
7. Dhyan - (Meditation)
With drawing mind from all external objects and Focusing it on one point
and meditating on it.
8. Samadhi - (Salvation)
State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness in to
universal consciousness. Union between Jivatman and Paramatman. Union of
Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrar Chakra (the top of the head). Realizing the
Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the ultimate
achievement of Human Birth.