Understanding Ashtanga Yoga

Understanding Ashtanga Yoga 101- Patanjali’s “Eight-limbed” Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga

Thousands of years ago sage Patanjali compiled Yoga Sutras which was a complete guide for all types of yoga learners. The commentaries’ by astute yoga scholars on Yoga Sutras helps us understand the true classical yoga better. Let us understand the basics of Patanjali’s “Eight-limbed” Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga and its implications in day to day life.

The Ashtanga Yoga or eight limbs consist of


Eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

Eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

Understanding Ashtanga Yoga- Let us understand first two rules properly Yama and Niyama and how to apply them in daily life

5 Yamas

  1. Ahimsa or Non-Violence

Ahimsa on all fronts i.e. thoughts, words & actions. It means stop unnecessary chatter, gossip and use WhatsApp wisely. No one needs to know your status all the time. People have their own lives to lead. Speaking abusive language, plan and plotting leave that to the TV serial makers; try to reduce drama in your real lives by speaking only when required. We tend to do less violence physically but need is to stop violence completely by way of words, speech and harmful thoughts! Do not get hurt by other or try to hurt other.

  1. Satya or Truthfulness

Honesty is the best policy. But how often we discount that and make excuses to avoid work or don’t help others out even when we have the resources. Stop lying about school grades, lying about age, lying about financial status just to impress others. Our true spirit and consciousness is tarnished and disturbed and lies always catch up. Try to face the situation as it is with all honesty.

  1. Asteya or Non-stealing

Be yourself. Stop stealing other peoples’ ideas, things, property, etc. Today this is very common and corporates are blatantly stealing ideas and trying to outdo others. We are running around like rats in a race and point is even if you win you are still a rat. So do the right thing no matter how hard asteya seems in short term; in the long run your inner consciousness will shine so bright you would be amazed and you will surely sleep better!

  1. Brahmacharya or Moderation

Anything in excess is poison. Slow down and everything you do should be in moderation. Stop overuse of social media, overindulgence to please the senses and worst is money overuse and abuse. Thing is more you have; more you will want! Be vigilant keep your conscious light and bright and stop overdoing. Curtail your senses by reducing your desires.

  1. Aparigraha or Non-Collection

Simplicity is key to live well.  Use only thing you require. We often hear, “I have collection of bags, books, shoes, gold necklaces etc.” Question your mindless and useless collections. Think about it, can you take it with you once your time is done on earth? Try to live with bear minimum and feel the happy space around.

5 Niyamas

  1. Saucha or Cleanliness

Clean environment is essential for practice of yoga.  Cleanliness of space around you, internal and external cleanliness is important. Think good, be good and do good.

  1. Santosh or Contentment

Stop trying to change others and comparing. This is worst you can do to yourself. Life is much more than mere salary figures and children exam grades! Comparison gives rise to dissatisfaction and jealously. As a result your true shine is lost. Be happy for others and content in your life and all the treasures it brings you.

  1. Tapa or Self Discipline

Self-discipline to overcome weakness is Tapa. Once that is achieved tapa for that weakness can be stopped. For example- Weakness for sweets one has to refrain till the deep desires are under control. Spiritual journey requires discipline of the highest order.

  1. Swadhyaya or Self-study

Awareness about self through continuous study is the key to progress spiritually. Yoga advocates knowing thy self-first. This is possible by knowing you positive and negative points well.  Thereby you can build on your strengths and reduce your weaknesses. Read holy scriptures, books, keep positive company it helps.

  1. Ishvarapranidhana or Surrender to higher reality

Surrendering to Higher reality with complete faith is one of the best ways to progress spiritually.  Stay on the course of spiritual journey with regular yoga practices with faith helps us to be aware of our purpose of life.

Seems simple enough but it’s easier said than done. So strive each day to do yoga both on the mat and off the mat by practicing Yamas and Niyamas more vigilantly from today.

Stay tuned will continue Understanding Ashtanga Yoga in my next blog …till then be happy, do yoga and live yoga!

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  • Yoga Pradipika
    Posted at 22:11h, 02 November Reply

    In the west, Ashtanga Yoga is being understood as a specific style of Yoga. But it is the type of yoga and belongs to the ancient school of Raja Yoga. Articles like this help to understand correctly

  • Yoga Pradipika
    Posted at 22:11h, 02 November Reply

    In the west, Ashtanga Yoga is being understood as a specific style of Yoga. But it is the type of yoga and belongs to the ancient school of Raja Yoga. Articles like this help to understand correctly

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