Why Ashtanga Yoga..

Yoga is a ancient system of physical and mental training. Traditionally, yoga was developed as a way of life to prepare the mind and body for enlightenment. Today, we practice yoga to build strength and flexibility, to learn to control our breathing, and to enhance our ability to concentrate.There are a number of popular schools of yoga practice, one of which is Ashtanga yoga. As you study Ashtanga yoga, you will encounter a great many strange words derived from Sanskrit, the ancient classical language of India.

Below you will find the derivation for many of the words you will hear as you learn Ashtanga yoga. In particular, you will be able to understand the meaning behind the names of the various poses.

Opening Chant, Warm-Up Poses, Standing Poses, Seating Poses, Finishing Poses, Relaxation Pose

Ashtanga yoga:
The classical yoga writings, the Yoga Sutras, were compiled in the second century B.C. by Patanjali, who described yoga as having eight major parts, sometimes referred to as the eight limbs of yoga. The word Ashtanga comes from the words ashta (eight) and anga (limbs).

An asana is a pose or posture. The names of almost all yoga poses end in “asasa”.

Vinyasa refers to a series of connected movements, performed in sequence. The sequence of warm up postures, Surya Namaskara A and B, are examples of vinyasa, as are the short sequences of movements used to connect one pose to another.

Ujjayi breath:
Ujjayi breath is a type of pranayama (controlled breathing) in which you breathe in a constant, even rhythm through both nostrils, holding your glottis partially closed. (When you do this right, it sounds a bit like Darth Vador.) You should practice Ujjayi breath throughout the entire Ashtanga yoga series. The word ujjayi means victory.

Opening Chant

vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
nihsreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohasantyai

abahu purusakaram
sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim

Om Shantihi.

Translation into English

I bow to the lotus feet of the guru
who awakens insight into the happiness of pure Being,
who is the final refuge, the jungle physician,
who eliminates the delusion caused by the poisonous
herb of samsara [conditioned existence].

I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads
[in his form as the divine serpent, Ananta]
and who has, as far as his arms,
assumed the form of a man holding a conch shell [divine sound],
a wheel [discus of light, representing infinite time]
and a sword [discrimination].

Om Shantihi