Taking as the basis the book "Yoga Mala" by Vidwan Pattabhi Jois (describes the philosophy and practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga in simple language, as well as personal practical experience), I decided to share some important information with those who are just about to start their journey in this direction.
Ashtanga Vinyasa style was founded in 1948, but it originates in ancient Sanskrit texts. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is also a type of Hatha yoga. The name of this trend is based on the word "Ashtanga", which means 8 petals (steps, branches). It should be noted that this style is much broader: it is not limited by a set of physical exercises and breathing techniques. This is ethics, practice, spiritual path, lifestyle, a special point of view and assessment of the external world through the code prescribed in "Yoga mala".
The goal is to transform the practitioner's body, mind, and spirit. It sounds strict, but as Pattabhi Joyce said, "Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga" is for everyone except the lazy. It is a waste of time to guess whether this style is suitable or not. To understand the smell of a flower, you have to inhale, to understand Ananda (bliss), you have to start practicing!
The word “Yoga” itself has many meanings: connection, meaning, relation, knowledge, nature, logic, etc. Yoga also means the path (Upaya). «...just as a disciple wins the Guru's heart by virtue of righteousness and the power of the mind, becomes one with the Guru, just as a woman who is devoted to her husband becomes one with her husband, so the mind, being aware of itself as part of the One Essence, does not exist separately from the Essence."
Yoga is the way to reveal the true nature of man. Through knowledge and practice, we learn to control the mind and sense organs, and come to balance and understand true Supreme peace and eternal enjoyment. Ashtanga Vinyasa says that without hard work, without the blessing of the Guru, the disciple will see nothing but worldly vanity. Also, the rules regarding food, sexual ethics, and speech are very important for a person who practices yoga. We begin to search for the answer how to concentrate our mind in the divine direction.
Ashtanga - Vinyasa yoga consists of 8 stages, comprehending which, a student reaches bliss (Samadhi).
I want to say that the ideal behavior of a person is prescribed here, a certain highest point of awareness and enlightenment. We should make a small effort, try to understand a small part of all these qualities of a perfect divine being and become at least a little closer to the beautiful.
1. Yama (stage 1)
consists of 5 elements that must be observed or tried to be observed:
1.1. Ahimsa - never, under any circumstances, do not harm anyone.
What can we do? As much as possible to clean your mind from negativity, anger, envy, etc., destroying us processes. First of all, try not to harm yourself, to understand the very meaning of harm.
1.2. Satya - be honest: in thoughts, words and deeds. But the truth should not hurt the other, it is better to keep the words of the bitter truth to yourself.
What can we do? Cultivate a daily code of honesty for yourself, in yourself. And the way it will be imperfect, but try to stick to it. Then try to tell your truth to others.
1.3. Asteya - do not steal anything from anyone.
What can we do? Always remember that we have everything we need, and firmly at the level of thought to stop the idea of theft.
1.4. Brahmacharya - concentration of the mind on the spiritual, not on the physical. If a yogi has a family, then sexual intercourse with his wife should be only for the purpose of conceiving children, so as not to lose vital energy, without which it is impossible to achieve Samadhi.
What can we do? Be more conscious in choosing a partner. We are still human, even though we are part of the animal world. Find, force your mind, emotions to rise above sexual desires.
1.5. Aparigraha - eat satvic (pure), fresh food. Food must be obtained by honest labor and only for the purpose of maintaining the physical body.
What can we do? Don't overeat to spoil the taste. Food fills the stomach by half, a quarter of it is filled with water and a quarter with air.
2. Niyama (stage 2)
consists of 5 elements:
2.1. Shaucha - purity of body and mind.
What can we do? External cleansing, keep the body clean! Inner cleansing - focus on helping, thanking, and accepting everything in a friendly way.
2.2. Santosha - satisfaction.
What can we do? Cultivate happiness, whether you are rich or poor, single or in a company. Luck may turn, but it should not depress us.
2.3. Tapas - self-discipline, diligence in achieving a spiritual goal.
What can we do? At least start with self-discipline in small matters: just agree on something and do not back down, no matter how much you want to. Then proceed to broader and more complex tasks.
2.4. Svadhyaya - study of yogic texts and prayers according to the rules.
What can we do? Self-development, learn new, high-quality motivating things. Don't get tired of improving.
2.5. Ishvara pranidhana - all intentions, said or not, all thoughts and actions are dedicated to God.
What can we do? Try to make life more important. Find the great beautiful and divine in yourself, in others, and maybe someone will find the truth, God, without even expecting it.
3. Asana (stage 3)
Disciplined practice of yogic postures, through which control of the mind and senses is achieved.
In Vedic texts asana begins the development of Ashtanga yoga. In my experience, it is easier to come to Yama and Niyama through diligent asana practice.
What can we do? Do not be lazy: use every day, every free minute for training. Let you start with running or swimming, and then take the time to stretch your body through asana. It will change your life, and change is always useful.
4. Pranayama (stage 4)
Breathing practice, concentration of the mind at one point and breath control.
There are many types of pranayam. In Ashtanga yoga four are used. The practice of pranayam helps to assimilate the subtle energy of the wind of life by inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath, performing Kriya (purification) together with the three bandhas (muscle tension, muscle locks).
What can we do? Start every day to devote 10 minutes to calm slow breathing.
So, these 4 stages (branches) listed above are the Foundation, the Foundation for life in society, for beautiful interaction with others. And more importantly, with you.
The next 4 stages are spiritual and concern only those who have the strength, desire, and good Foundation to go further on the path of self-knowledge. These people we rarely meet among us in a big city. However, when we meet them anywhere, we remember them till the end of our lives.
Briefly about the great.
5. Pratyahara (stage 5)
Renunciation. A technique for distracting the senses from the objects they are directed at. When there is no connection with objects, the sense organs follow the internal form of consciousness, and this is a distraction. Thanks to this, complete subordination of the senses is achieved.
6. Dharana (stage 6)
Density. Long - term retention of attention on an object. Deep concentration leads to a state of contemplation.
7. Dhyana (stage 7)
Contemplation, meditation, calming the mind, and then a complete stop for a while of any mental activity
8. Samadhi (stage 8)
Liberation. The state achieved by meditation, which is expressed by calmness of consciousness. Removing contradictions between the inner and outer worlds. A state close in meaning to Nirvana, enlightenment.
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga classes are useful for all people, starting from the age of eight, men and women, the weak and the sick.
Anyone who practices consistently, responsibly, carefully, and seriously will succeed.
For example, pregnant women should refrain from practicing asanas starting from the fourth month of pregnancy, but continue practicing pranayama (breathing practices) until the seventh month. Practicing full inhalation and exhalation while sitting in Padmasana (Lotus position) will facilitate delivery.
For people over 50, it is enough to perform some of the simple asanas and pranayams. But those who have been practicing for many years can continue to do all the exercises. For older people who want to start practicing yoga, it is enough to do Surya Namaskara A and B. In addition to this, it is recommended to do the following asanas:
It is better to perform these asanas together with Vinyasas (a combination of movements and breathing), but if this is not possible, it is enough to concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.
Pattabhi Jois wrote that this way you can strengthen the body and the senses, purify the mind, prolong life and fill the body with fresh energy. Middle-aged people can perform all the asanas. The longer a person practices, the stronger the body becomes and diseases recede. The lesson should start with Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation), and then proceed to performing asanas.
Sincerity, courage, firmness, discernment of truth, conviction, and avoidance of gatherings are six things that will help you understand yoga.
Focus on them!
Success in mastering the amazing Ashtanga Vinyasa!