Ashtanga Yoga are the 8 stages of yoga described by the wise Patanjali.
Ashtanga is NOT a particular form of yoga but there are yoga classes that have preferred this name that they then manifest as a brand under which they operate.
Ashtanga yoga are the 8 stages of Raja Yoga, which also contains Hatha Yoga.
That is, yoga most widespread as it is presented, often diluted or modified to the idea of sports, to Western practitioners.
These are rather stages in
the transcendence of inner limitations, and
obtaining the state of full freedom, consciousness and happiness (samadhi).
There are people who have greater affinity for one of these stages and consider it “their way” what it may seem to them at first glance, authentic.
However, on their way to realization starting from one of the Ashtanga stages they will manifest, in reality, all the ashtanga yoga stages, but less obvious and imprinted by the stage for have a great affinity.
However, it is better to understand Astanga yoga as 8 stages that are taken in the process of transcending limitations and achieving the state of full freedom, consciousness and happiness (samadhi) which is the ultimate goal in yoga.
We will discover them present both in Hatha Yoga (yoga that starts mainly from the physical body following more plpable results and more desired by people) and in almost any form of meditation (an approach that is more refined and deeper).
1. YAMA (“what not to do”)- are restrictions or, in other words, what we should NOT do. They are instructions necessary for the neophyte in yoga, because for him, at this stage it is more necessary to understand and limit his inferior tendencies. Yama contains elements that Western culture regards as having to do with what in the west is known to be moral and ethical issues.
These cunt are:
– ahimsa (non-violence)
– satya (do not say what you know is a lie)
– asteya (non-theft),
– brahmacharya (mastery in controlling creative energies – active or passive sexual abstinence)
– aparigraha (non-possessiveness, non-accumulation or simplicity);
2. NIYAMA (“what to do or aspects that we should not refrain from”) are aspects that we must NOT restrain, but we can develop them as well as we can. These are:
– saucha ( purity – careful purification of both the physical structure and especially the mental and emotional structure),
– santosha (contentment),
– tapas (austerity),
– svadhiyaya (self-study)
– ishvara pranidhana (uninterrupted adoration and self-giving to God);
3. ASANA – the relaxed and perfectly motionless physical postures of the body, which must be practiced in such a way that they lead the yogi to the efficient approach of the meditation practice and also to give him a perfect state of health;
4. PRNAYAMA – full control of subtle breaths through breath control;
5. PRATYAHARA – the “withdrawal” of the senses from the perception of the surrounding objects;
6. DHARANA – concentration or firm focus of attention in a single point or in other words on a single object of meditation;
7. DHYANA – meditation, which represents the phase in which concentration becomes stable and the PROCESS OF TRANSCENDING MENTAL FLUCTUATIONS OCCURS;
8. SAMADHI – the concrete transcendence of mental fluctuations, which also knows several inner stages and is characterized by the transcendence of inner limitations, obtaining the state of full freedom, consciousness and happiness.
yoga teacher, founder of Abheda Yoga Academy