Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient form of yoga propounded by Patanjali, who has compiled the basic Ashtanga Yoga poses in his yoga sutras. He has described the philosophy of yoga as the eight limbs of yoga.
The eight fold path of yoga as formulated by Patanjali is: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Yama and Niyama describe the principles and disciplines which are precursors to practice of yoga. Asana and Pranayama describe the postures and breathing exercises in detail. Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana describe the preparation for salvation through withdrawal of senses, focus and meditation. The final chapter on Samadhi describes the state of salvation.
Basic Postures of Ashtanga Yoga
Translated as the sun salutations, these asanas are the basic fundamental postures. It is a complex of 10 basic poses. There are two types of this –type A has only the 10 postures, while type B has 18 postures. Both the types have a mixture of standing and sitting postures that give complete exercise routine to all parts of the body. Starting with 10 rounds of each, one can perform as many as their body allows.
Forward bends, triangle poses are performed with legs placed apart and keeping the knees straight. Angle poses involve bending one of the knees while keeping the other straight. There are also the wide leg forward bends and their variations. Then come the asymmetric postures such as extended big toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana), half bound lotus pose (Ardha Badda Padmasana) and the warrior pose.
As with the standing postures, there are forward bends in sitting postures too. Reverse plank, half bound lotus and hero forward bend are some of them. The Janu Sirsasana, turtle pose, rooster pose, embryo pose, boat pose and Marichyasana are the later ones. Practicing these requires a good bit of flexibility and hence requires mastering the previous ones first.
The final postures of the asanas stage in Ashtanga yoga are: Chakrasana (wheel pose), Halasana (plough pose), Matsyasana (fish pose), Ardha Sirshasana (half head stand) and the final Sirshasana (head stand).
The last asana after the circuit of yoga poses should be Shavasana (corpse pose). This seals the yoga practice for the day and cools you off after the full routine.
The practice of these basic Ashtanga yoga poses makes your body supple and fit. It prepares your body to take on any challenge posed to your stamina and endurance.
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