Sanskrit Words use in Ashtanga Yoga Practice

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a form of yoga as created by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century, often known as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. The Ashtanga Yoga style is energetic, based on synchronizing breath with movements. This dynamic form of yoga is known to produce internal heat that purifies our body. Ashtanga yoga is a form of yoga that backs its design in a way that builds core strength and tones the human body. This form of yoga was created to focus on the 3rd limb of yoga, which is well known as “asana.” The remaining seven limbs of yoga are realized if one practices the then-designed sequence of postures by Sri K.Pattabhi Jois.

ashtanga yoga

Tracing the meaning of “Ashtanga.”

  • The literal meaning of Ashtanga translates into eight limbs, and hence initially conceived by sage, Patanjali describes it as an eight limb path.
  • It is believed that when Ashtanga yoga is practiced with complete devotion and dedication, it leads you to the ultimate realization of truth and inner self.
  • The Ashtanga yoga system is a unique combination of sound breathing called Ujjayi, deep, slightly audible nostrils breathing, Bandhas, internal energy locks and Drishti, specific eye gaze points in particular sequences of asanas linked by vinyasa, coordinating breath with movement.
  • Ashtanga yoga style demands a pre-determined sequence that every Ashtangi has to follow-
    • The repetitiveness of style is precisely one of the reasons most people find it annoying. You can feel that some of these stuck in their most disliked poses for many days or months or years.
    • Human nature gets inherently fashioned to skip or to avoid tasks that are painful, difficult, or challenging.
    • Sometimes, it is your inhibitions and psychological mindset that prevents you from experiencing freedom and contentment.
    • The Ashtanga form of yoga meant to align your yogic interests to a more blissful path.

Quick Guide for Sanskrit word in Ashtanga yoga practice

The very essence of “Ashtanga” is based on two Sanskrit words, Ashta (eight) and Anga (limbs). It is important to understand the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga for a fruitfull yogic journey.

ashtanga yoga

Let us explore some of the famous limbs of Astanga yoga that makes you ready for its practice:

  • Yama: Self-restraint

The first limb of Ashtanga Yoga is known as Yama. It is a Sanskrit word, meaning “restraint” and is from the perspective of Ashtanga style. It means practicing self-control from your words, actions, and thoughts, which may cause suffering either to others or to your own self.

  • Niyama: fixed Observance

It is the second limb of Ashtanga yoga. The limb describes the need for connection within your inner self and not with society.

  • Asana: Yoga positions

The modern world knows the most featured form of practicing yoga, and that is asana. Meaning yoga positions. It is the third limb of ashtanga yoga. The various subforms are listed below:

  • Sukhasana
  • Siddhasana
  • Padmasana
  • Pranayama: Force through breath

Pranayama is the fourth out of eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. Defined in Yoga Sutras as “regulation of life-force through stilling breath,” it has Sanskrit origin. Sanskrit word pranayama consists of two words i.e., prana (the energy that sustains all life and Ayama (to regulate). Prana is not just related to breath control; rather, breath is considered as a source of accessing prana. So, it involves harmonizing the life-force within the body. Life-force is one that permeates the entire physical system and performs as a link between the mind and the body.

  • Pratyahara (Withdrawal Of Mind From Senses)

This fifth limb of yoga is essential for the preparation of the mind for meditation and concentration. It consists of two Sanskrit words i.e., Prati (the reverse direction) and air (to remove or withdraw). It traces its literal meaning is “to move back in the opposite direction.” It focuses on the withdrawal of the mind from five senses and their particular mindsets in the world i.e., the Interiorization of the brain.

ashtanga yoga teacher training

Sanskrit words in Sun Salutation

To begin with, bring yourself to the starting position Samasthiti, popularly known as the mountain pose.

Count these following steps for Sun Salutation as a sequence

  • Samasthiti: Mountain pose

It is the starting yoga position for Sun Salutation.

  • Urdhva Vrikshasana / Urdvha Hastasana: Upward tree or upward salute

It is the second step to be followed in Sun Salutation.

Sanskrit count: Ekam

Breath: Inhale

  • Uttanasana: Standing forward fold

Sanskrit count: Dve

Breath: Exhale

ashtanga yoga

  • Ardha Uttanasana: Half standing forward fold

Sanskrit count: Trini

Breath: Inhale

  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Upward facing dog

Sanskrit count: Pancha

Breath: Inhale

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana: Half standing forward fold

Sanskrit Count: Sat

Breath: Exhale

  • Uttanasana: standing forward fold

Sanskrit Count: Astau

Breath: Exhale

  • Urdhva Vrikshasana: Upward tree

Sanskrit Count: Nava

Breath: Inhale

  • Samasthiti: Mountain position of yoga

It is the step that brings you back to the mountain yoga position.

Breath: Exhale

The Final Word

Astanga yoga is a life long process that demands diligence, perseverance, and consistency of a yogi. Explore the world of ancient yogi lives in the language they used to learn and teach. Let Sanskrit be the language that translates the seamless powers of yoga into reality.

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