Primary Series and Poses of Astanga Yoga

Yoga, one of the most ancient fitness disciplines, comprises of many different schools. These different schools of yoga all have different techniques of performing similar poses.

Though the underlying principles and benefits of these different styles are similar, some of their benefits are varied and have specific effects on the body. Some of these yoga types are Bikram yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, Iyengar yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga and astanga yoga.

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The word 'astanga' comes from the Sanskrit language and means 'eight limbs'. The entire discipline of astanga yoga was formulated by an Indian sage, Patanjali, who wrote about astanga yoga in his book, 'Yoga Sutras'. Astanga yoga postures and the different series of astnaga yoga poses are all a result of the compilation of his philosophies. Till date, the philosophies of Patanjali are studied in order to find out more about the discipline of yoga.

Yoga was first described about 5000 years ago in the Vedic philosophies that originated in India. According to Patanjali, there are eight principles or limbs of yoga.

These principles are:

  1. Yama: Yama is otherwise known as the principles of moral code. This code can be further broken down into five principles, namely the principle of non violence, principle of honesty or non - stealing, principle of non possessiveness, principle of truthfulness, and principle of celibacy
  2. Niyama: These are the personal disciplines and are characterized by purity, contentment with what one has in life, self study and introspection, endurance, and dedication
  3. Asana: These are the astanga yoga poses which are divided into several different series. The astanga yoga primary series for instance, consists of poses for the beginners. These help you attain equilibrium
  4. Pranayama: These are breathing exercises which help you control your breath and respiration
  5. Pratyahara: To increase the power of the mind and to be in a state of total clarity, the senses have to be withdrawn. This is more of a mental preparation
  6. Dharana: The mind, in order to increase its focus, needs to concentrate on one object and the field around it
  7. Dhyana: One of the most important practices in yoga is meditation. With the help of meditation, you can withdraw your mind from all external influences
  8. Samadhi: This is the last step to nirvana. A state of super bliss, this can be reached when the individual conscious merges with the universal conscious
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