In the Sanskrit language, the word Ashtanga is broken down into two parts namely Ashta meaning eight and Anga meaning limbs. The practice of Ashtanga Yoga has its origins in Sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which includes lessons on yogic philosophy. The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga include Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi.
To know what is Ashtanga yoga one has to first understand these eight limbs in detail. Each of the eight limbs in Ashtanga yoga provides a deep insight into the yogic lifestyle. These go much beyond than the physical practice of different yoga asanas. Let us now understand a bit about the humble origins of this sacred art.
Ashtanga Yoga – The Origins
Although the name Ashtanga Yoga is found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras it was two Indian yogis namely Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois who developed this yoga style as it is known in today’s date.
Pattabhi Jois was a student of Krishnamacharya who taught him a series of yoga postures that were made to suit every individual. However, every student has to practice these yoga sequences in a speed they are comfortable with under their teacher’s guidance. Later, Pattabhi Jois continued his guru’s teachings and developed a variety of Ashtanga Yoga sequences namely Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and so on.
With that said, now let us look at the benefits which regular practice of Ashtanga yoga offers.
5 Major Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
Given below are the five major benefits of daily Ashtanga yoga practice.
1. Better Immune Levels
Ashtanga yoga benefits you the most when combined with the right breathing technique. It provides your body with a fresh oxygen. Moreover, the regular practice of this yoga style offers your body a massive improvement in blood circulation and purification. In other words, your body develops better immunity levels which helps you stay safe from many health problems.
2. Improved Metabolism
Going by definition, a healthy body is one devoid of any disease. On the contrary, if you are having trouble with digestion then enjoying good health is out of the question. Your body’s metabolism is important for providing it with the strength to face any health issue. The regular practice of Ashtanga yoga helps you get rid of digestive system issues.
3. Relieves Stress
A major reason why many individuals choose Ashtanga yoga style is due to its stress-relieving benefits. Too much stress and tension give birth to mental health issues like depression and severe anxiety which is not good for you. Moreover, the unhealthy lifestyle only adds to the problem.
Since Ashtanga yoga requires you to combine specific physical movements with the right breathing techniques, your body and mind receive a massive benefit of getting refreshed in the long run.
4. A Spiritual Practice
The final goal of life is self-realization which is something a majority of individuals lack in today’s date. The ever-increasing responsibilities cause several health problems like depression, anxiety, and this stops a person from evolving on a spiritual level.
However, the practice of Ashtanga yoga which includes the Ashtanga 8 limbs of yoga helps improve not just your yoga practice, but also self-analysis, breathing, and ability to concentrate. It is what ultimately leads you towards Samadhi or the realization of the true self.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
By not just controlling your breathing pattern but also developing the right breathing technique, you train your heart to pump blood to all body parts. The inhalation and exhalation you practice in Ashtanga yoga strengthen your blood vessels, thereby improving heart health and lowering blood pressure.
Ashtanga yoga includes a lot more than just the regular practice of a specific sequence of yoga asanas. By understanding what is Ashtanga yoga you also open up a world of possibilities to taking your daily yoga practice from a physical to the mental level.