ESSENCE OF YOGA

ESSENCE OF YOGA – THE 8 LIMBS

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Essence of yoga

The history of Yoga dates back to time immemorial, and includes a huge body of scriptures. That scriptures navigate the human experience and how we may train the mind through the body, thereby achieving the union of “Yog” with the all that is. So what is essence of yoga?

To witness the self as a direct expression of all that is. And without attaching to experiences, remaining free from conceptions and ideas. Whilst being spontaneously joyous, spring forth with universal knowledge both verbally and non-verbally as a direct outer of the eternal wisdom of the universal. This can become quite esoteric and difficult to comprehend. But may also be simplified when taken in the pathways of everyday practical Yoga routines available to us in real and tangible teachings.

The simplest of these is arguable the Astanga 8 limbs of Yoga. Which teaches us how we may walk the path the renunciates (Yogis) do, while we are still living in the material and commercial world of modernity and stressors.

Applying teachings

In fact, when we take written teachings and apply them where we are, it is the immediate experience. And this experience provides a learning environment and incentive to change our worldview and view of ourselves in it. And thus, we achieve greater knowledge of ourselves and others, our inner and outer world. So what is essence of yoga?

The Ashtanga teachings include a simplification and elucidation of the core yogic path. This was created to simplify and find an accord between the varying schools of Yoga. So it can sometimes cause much confusion to the beginning practitioner or potential student.

To summarize those principles here are the core 8 limbs as recorded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

1) Yama (ethical restraints) 2) Niyama (personal observances) 3) Asana (physical postures) 4) Pranayama (breath control) 5) Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) 6) Dharana (concentration) 7) Dhyana (meditation) 8) Samadhi (a state of unity)

The first two limbs consist of ethical and personal restraints and observances that lead us into more and more peace, thereby ensuring our practice may proceed with minimal obstructions. To go to the third step with no regard for the initial two is only going to create more challenges to your practice yielding the fruits your practice would otherwise provide. So it is best to adhere to the path of the ancient teachings in the acknowledgement that you will proceed more easily, and effectively through the path towards self realization and moksha, liberation and freedom from suffering for want of a better translation from Sanskrit.

The following are the breakdown of steps that make up the Yamas and Niyamas:

YAMAS (ethical restraints)

1) Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – doing no harm to oneself or to any living being or “From harming

ourselves and others to kindness and compassion for self and others”. 2) Truthfulness (Satya) – honesty and forthrightness without doing harm or “From lies and

half-truths to expressing our uniqueness and authenticity”. 3) Non-stealing (Asteya) – removing the tendency to look outwards for satisfaction or

“From theft to cultivating new skills and abilities”. 4) Non-excess (Brahmacharya) – being present to the divinity in life and not seeking more

or “From greed to appreciation and pleasure without excess”. 5) Non-possessiveness (Aparigraha) – freedom from desire to “own” or “keep” people,

status and material possessions or “From attachment to intimacy without possession”.

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NIYAMAS (personal observances)

1) Purity (Saucha) – continual clarification of our intent, thoughts, emotions and actions or

“Cleansing our bodies, our speech, our thoughts”. 2) Contentment (Santosha) – being at peace with the present state of awareness, internal

and external conditions or “Falling in love with our own life”. 3) Self-discipline (Tapas) – maintaining the drive and motivation to embrace eternal

change and create balance of “soft” and “hard” in ourself and practices or “Consciously choosing discipline and growth”. 4) Self-study (Svadhyaya) – to study the universal and small self, to also examine the

mind, its thoughts emotions and feelings arising in reaction to the external world, and learning the essence of our conditioned self to release this, so we may rest fully and completely in the expansive universal self and consciousness, or “Knowing the Self”. 5) Surrender (Ishvara Pranidhana) – to release control and embrace the progression

along the path as being like that of a river you have entered, carrying you downstream towards the ocean of enlightenment you release the need to struggle against perceived obstacles. This is essential for regaining faith in ourselves, and the outside world, embracing change and opening the heart and mind or “Paying attention to what life is asking of us”.

I trust that this brief explanation of the core principles in Yogic practice makes clear what was not before, and hides you along the path to union with truth, bliss, peace and consciousness.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

By Thomas Clayden Eckersley B.H.Sc

Difference Between Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga

What is the difference between Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga ?

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What is the Difference between Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga?

When we talk about yoga, the term goes beyond only physical exercise as it is known in western countries. There are different branches that support and rich the whole discipline to eventually become a lifestyle when one deepens into it.

Ashtanga Vinyasa and Vinyasa Flow are two styles of yoga asana which have specific characteristics according to their purpose and philosophy.

What’s the meaning of “Ashtanga”?

The word Ashtanga itself means “the eight limbs (branches)” of yoga which according to the ancient knowledge. There are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Pattabhi Jois and T. Krishnamacharya established Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Mysore (South India) in the 20th century. These branches are meant to expand the whole discipline into other fields to:

  • learn different techniques to control your breathing and vital energy.
  • improve your concentration and knowledge
  • have a better control of your senses
  • learn different methods of inner and outer purification and of course to balance the mind within the physical body: yoga asana.

Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic, flowing style that connects the movement of the body with a specific technique of breath called “ujjai ”. The importance of this yoga asana practice relies on the daily practice of a sequence series of postures. According to the progress of the yoga practitioner, there are six series of Ashtanga yoga sequences where the level of the asanas as well as the level of concentration in the mind increase.

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Mysore style of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga classes means that the students have to memorize each asana sequence, develop it individually, but setting the energy together and get adjustments from the teacher supporting the class. They should master each posture in the sequence they are working before they move on to the next.

Ashtanga yoga is considered a vigorous, orderly practice. And, as such, is more suited to students who want a dynamic and rigorous yoga practice.

What is Vinyasa yoga flow?

The term Vinyasa refers to connects the breathing system with every movement in the series.

Vinyasa is also the term used to describe a specific sequence of poses commonly used throughout a vinyasa class. For example, Chaturanga to Upward-Facing Dog to Downward-Facing Dog.

In a Vinyasa practice, the student is led by the teacher who will create a different class every time to develop the certain number of asanas. And he go with dynamic flow and increase the level of the postures with the support of some elements such as props, music, some variations according to the student, etcetera.

Some difference between Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga styles are:

  • The sequencing: Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga consists of a series of postures: primary, secondary, and advanced. On the other side, Vinyasa Flow class sequences vary, the practitioner might change a sequence each time.
  • Each Ashtanga Vinyasa series includes a category of asanas: the primary series centers on forwarding bend, the second series focuses on backbends, and the advanced series emphasizes arm-support and arm-balancing poses. Vinyasa Flow yoga sequences, on the other hand, often feature a peak pose, chosen by the yoga teacher according to the level of the student class.
  • The main development of the Ashtanga vinyasa practice is up to the student with the Mysore style class mentioned above. While in the Vinyasa Flow class, the teacher always leads the class through the asanas.
  • Practitioners of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga do not use props, posture modifications, or music. In Vinyasa Flow classes, some teachers make props available to adapt and adjust to some asanas if it is needed.

It would be a good idea to do some research. And also to try a couple of classes to feel yourself. Then finally decide which one is the more suitable for you according to your lifestyle, personality, energy, and physical constitution.

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