What is YOGA? Yoga in Sanskrit translates into UNION – literally to ‘yoke’ – so to unite these elements, to unite with your higher self through meditation – this union or yoga is achieved by the cessation/ channelization of the behaviour of our mind. – In a way simple mind control…. Don’t we all do this?! ;0)
No this is a very difficult task to shut of the constant stream of chatter. To aid us through this we have these other elements like above. We will begin with the on mat yoga asana – and I’ll leave the off mat to you!
Eight Limbed Yoga – When translated from the Sanskrit in to English, Ashtanga means “Eight Limbs”. Ashta = Eight, Anga = Limb.
Hence, we find it composed of eight elements.
These are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
When we analyse these 8 principals we find the key to harmonious living encased within. Explaining these in a nutshell they are –
- Yama : external codes/ value system towards outside world – how to live in this world
- Niyama : internal codes/ how to maintain pure on internal personal level
- Asana : Posture/ How I hold my body
- Pranayama : breath control/regulation of breath
- Pratyahara : withdrawal of senses / not being their slave
- Dharana : fixing the mind on an object/directing attention /concentration
- Dhyana : Meditation
- Samadhi: Ultimate enlightenment/one with the universe/union with higherself
3 principles of practicing Ashtanga
Tristana is the key to this deeper /spiritual side of yoga. Tristana is the name for the union of Breath, Bandha and Drishti. (Breath, Body locks, Focal Point)
- Ujjayi breathing is the foundation of vinyasa (vinyasa being the union of breath and movement). Ujjayi breathing: Inhale and exhale always through the nose. It is a sibilant sound created by slightly contracting the glottis in the pit of the throat. Not a sniffle yet not a choking feeling. Soft and Smooth.
- The alignment of the body in asana is achieved through bandhas/locks. Mula Bandha: are the pelvic floor muscles, root lock, supporting your body through the postures and holding prana / energy in.
- Drishti completes the trio and builds the bridge, a focal point to focus your attention, prevent the mind from wandering.
Simple In-Out Breath Practice: Ujjayi Breathing
Sit down with your spine upright and close your eyes. Feel your sit bones grounded, heart lifted, feeling light
Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. When exhaling, produce the sound ‘HHHHHAAAA’.
From now on, keep your mouth closed while exhaling. Generate the same sound as before but this time with your mouth closed.
Make sure the sound originates from your throat and not from your nose. Now maintain the same throat position while inhaling, producing the same murmuring sound.
Begin to balance your inhalation with your exhalation. Balance the sound, quality and length of your breath.
Feel your heartbeat. Inhale over approximately three to five heartbeats and exhale over the same amount.
Lift your arms while inhaling, and lower them while exhaling.
The breath should be continuously smooth. This is very beneficial to the nerves and the mind. This can be used with Mediation.
Now let your hands rest in your lap while you let your breath flow. Experience the effect of your breathing.
Now slowly open your eyes and return to normal breathing. You have now successfully learned the Ujjayi Pranayama (breathing method). It will take some practice before the quality of this breathing system can be successfully used during your physical practice.