Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga is derived from the Sanskrit words "Ashta" and "Anga." "Ashta" means eight, and "anga" means limbs or body parts. The Asht anga, or the eight limbs, include:

  1. Yama (moral codes)
  2. Niyama (self-discipline)
  3. Asana (yoga posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (oneness with the self)

Ashtanga yoga consists of a sequence of yoga postures. It includes six series/levels of yoga poses, including both standing and sitting poses. The first two series, known as the primary series and the second or intermediate series, are easy and basic level poses, but the remaining four levels, known as Advanced A or the third series, Advanced B or the fourth series, and Advanced D or the sixth series, are a little more difficult and advanced level poses. Ashtanga poses focus more on the breath while being performed. Among all yoga styles, Ashtanga Yoga is the most widely practiced.

History of Ashtanga Yoga

The original source of Ashtanga Yoga is "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,"  a textbook based on the theory and practise of yoga. "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" was written by the great sage, yoga guru, and author Patanjali. The textbook is based on the philosophy of Patanjali.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, a yoga teacher and scholar, is believed to have created Ashtanga Yoga in the 20th century. Shir K. Pattabhi Jois learned yoga from a world renowned yoga teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T. Krishnamacharya studied "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" and learned the classical Ashtanga style of yoga, which he taught to his students, including Shir K. Pattabhi Jois. Shir K. Pattabhi Jois developed and popularised Ashtanga Yoga. The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute was founded by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1948 in Mysore, India. Many people visit Mysore to learn authentic Ashtanga yoga from certified and notable yoga teachers.

Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

The Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga are as follows:

Muscle Building: Ashtanga yoga is great for muscle building. The poses in Ashtanga yoga target muscles in the arms, legs, and core. The poses in Ashtanga put tension on the muscles, which in turn make the muscles grow bigger and stronger. Scientific studies have also shown that practising Ashtanga poses can increase muscular strength.

Lowers blood pressure and improves heart health: Ashtanga Yoga includes breathing exercises as well. The purpose of these exercises is to improve inhalation and exhalation. Breathing exercises with meditation help lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and promote healthy living.

Reduce anxiety and stress: The meditation system in Ashtanga Yoga helps calm the mind and body. It reduces negative thoughts and enhances mood, which can naturally lower the stress and anxiety levels in the body. A lower level of stress and anxiety improves concentration as well as other abilities.

Better flexibility: The stretching exercises in Ashtanga yoga improve flexibility. The different poses performed in Ashtanga yoga require you to stretch the body muscles, which helps muscles release tension and stiffness in the body, which in turn improves flexibility and reduces the possibility of muscle injury. Recent studies have reported that practising Ashtanga yoga for 8 weeks can improve flexibility by over 35% in the body.

Increased self-awareness: It is beneficial for improving one's self awareness and consciousness. Practicing yoga meditation helps calm the mind and also to connect more with one's inner self. Connecting with one's inner self can assist a person in recognising their own strengths, weaknesses, and energy systems and transforming them through specific practices.

Weight loss: Ashtanga yoga consists of physical workout exercises that help reduce body fat. Celebrities also practise yoga to help maintain their weight, which makes them look good and attractive. It is estimated that an individual can lose up to 550 calories from 1 hour of yoga.

Which are the best places to learn Ashtanga Yoga in India?

India is the place that has given the world the beautiful gift of yoga. Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. The word "yoga" is a Sanskrit language word that was first mentioned in an ancient text called the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda was developed and written by rishis (sages). Lord Shiva is believed to be the first yogi or adiyogi to be seen in yoga posture, and he is the one who invented yoga. Lord Shiva is believed to have founded yoga. People have been practising yoga on the Indian Subcontinent for thousands of years.

There are a number of places in India where people can learn Ashtanga yoga. However, the Best Place to Learn Ashtanga Yoga in India is Rishikesh in Uttarakhand and Mysore in Karnataka.

The fees for the yoga courses range between 300 and 1200 USD, depending on the course and the yoga school chosen. The courses will include the following:

The Ashtanga Yoga Schools offer different yoga courses such as Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training, yoga retreats, and workshops. The different levels of Ashtanga Yoga teacher training courses offered at yoga schools include:

The following are the top 5 Ashtanga Yoga schools in India :

Ashtanga Yoga FAQs

Ashtanga Yoga is a form of yoga consisting of Six series of yoga poses performed in sequence. Ashtanga Yoga is about bringing the eight limbs together to find inner peace and balance between mind and body.

shtanga Yoga was developed and popularised by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. K. Pattabhi Jois was an Indian yoga guru. He established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India, in 1948.

Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word meaning "Eight Limbs/Body parts". The Eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are:

  1. Yama (moral codes)
  2. Niyama (self-discipline)
  3. Asana (yoga posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (oneness with the self)

Ashtanga Yoga has 6 series or levels, namely:

  • Primary series
  • Secondary or intermediate series
  • Advanced A or the third series
  • Advanced B or the fourth series
  • Advanced C or the fifth series
  • Advanced D or the sixth series

The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga is called Yoga Chikitsa, which is an easy series in Ashtanga Yoga. It helps build muscle and improve flexibility in the body.

The secondary or intermediate series of Ashtanga yoga is called Nadi Shodhana. The series is for nerve cleaning and the flowing of energy in the spine.

The advanced series consists of A, B, C and D levels. The advanced series requires high muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance, which are only possible after completing the primary and intermediate series of Ashtanga yoga. The advanced series focuses on breathing technique, flexibility, mobility, posture, and nervous system improvement.

Which are the Best Ashtanga Yoga Schools in India?

The Best Ashtanga Yoga School in India is the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India, established in 1948 by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. However, some of the other best yoga schools in India to learn Ashtanga yoga are:

  • Rishikesh Ashtanga Yoga School, Rishikesh
  • Sri Yoga Ashram, Rishikesh
  • Rishikesh Ashtanga Yogapeeth, Rishikesh
  • Diya Yogashala, Rishikesh
  • Rishikul Yogashala, Rishikesh

Some of the famous primary series yoga poses, or asanas, in Ashtanga Yoga are as follows:

  • Surya Namaskar 
  • Padangusthasana
  • Pada Hastasana
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
  • Ardha Baddha Padma Uttanasana
  • Dandasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Purvottanasana
  • Navasana
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana
  • Salamba Sarvangasana
  • Sirsasana
  • Yoga Mudra
  • Padmasana
  • Savasana

Yes, Ashtanga yoga can be done by beginners. The primary series of Ashtanga yoga is easy and can be performed by beginners as well.

An Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTTC) is required to become an Ashtanga Yoga teacher. There are different levels of Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training courses, including 100 hour Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Course, 200 hour Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Course, and others as well. After completing these courses, one can become a registered Yoga Teacher Trainer in India.

Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training courses are comprehensively designed yoga courses for yoga aspirants aspiring to become professional yoga instructors or teachers. All the Yoga Teacher Training courses, or YTTC, are registered with Yoga Alliance USA.

The Duration of Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training courses is 28 days to 60 days depending on the level of yoga teacher training course.

The average fee for an Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training course in India is USD 1000. The fees of the course are subject to the level of the yoga teacher training course.

Posted by: eUttaranchal/ Brijmohan Bisht
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