Jnana means the knowledge. This yoga is the yoga for the intelligent and selected people. This yoga is the ultimate goal of all the other varieties of yoga. This yoga teaches you to look at the world as it is without any ignorance and bias. You can achieve this state by practicing rigorous mental discipline and virtue. This yoga is also called Raja Yoga or the king of all the yogas, since it is of the highest variety and rules over all the other varieties. This is the Yoga that Patanjali has described in his Yoga Sutras. This yoga is made up of eight parts of which five are external and the other three are internal. Two of its parts, viz yama and niyama deal with types of behaviour that the student of yoga should avoid like lying, cheating, stealing etc. and those behaviours that he should cultivate like cleanliness, non-collection etc. Asanas and Pranayama are the next two parts of this yoga. Asanas are the physical movements that help in developing the suppleness of the body and thus cure any diseases. You can control your breath by using pranayama which increases the capacity of the lungs to take in air and thus increases the vitality of the body. The next part Pratyahara denotes the withdrawal of the sense organs from objects of enjoyment. The remaining three parts deal with intense mental concentration.Patanjali maintained that practicing these eight parts of yoga faithfully and intensely will, over a period of time, erase all the impurities of the body and mind and thus attain knowledge that will liberate the person from bondage and ignorance. This yoga is called Ashtanga Yoga since it is made of eight parts. It is also called as Dhyana yoga due to its stress on mental concentration. Hence, whenever there is any mention of yoga, it is usually implied that the person is talking about Jnana Yoga
Have you heard about the Gunas? No, they are not Disney characters! According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva.Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives. When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go go go, do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasicTamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed. Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yogas sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated. Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses. Youll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly effect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic foods) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life. This can be done by:Reducing rajas and tamasBecoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughtsEating a healthy, sattvic oriented dietCertain herbs (subject for another article)The practice of yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation
Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite normal and is part of the process. Stretching has seemingly been with us and particular with athletes since the beginning of time.A very key point to good stretching is to hold the stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few years back. She said that any stretch under 17 seconds was just not effective.The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30 seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But, it can't hurt, right?So what kind of benefits can you expect from stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that played him was quite elastic as well.Great elasticity is also something you might see in well trained Spetsnaz(Russian)agents. They often work out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic shocks.Why are stretching and flexibility considered important to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to have explosive power available at one's fingertips without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to know there are plenty of other benefits.Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in the full lotus position for long periods of time, my ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's normal position.Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt for days.Key point: stretching helps us to avoid injuries. Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically speaking.Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over time.Check with your physician before undertaking any type of exercise, including stretching.
We have known the importance and benefits of the first six Ashtanga Namaskar Poses. We will conclude the "Ashtanga Namaskar" Yoga Asana series with the remaining six asanas. 7. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)Inhale - Om Hiranayagarbhaaya NamahBenefits: This asana is very useful to keep your back in the fittest position. The spinal region becomes strong and very agile. This asana helps in creating a healthy circulation for your back. It tones your body as well as the spinal nerves. Your digestion is improved. It tones your liver as well as massages the kidneys. The male and female reproductive system improves. Irregular menstrual cycle problems are rectified too. With the increasing blood circulation your face gives a radiant look. 8. ParvatasanaExhale - Om Mareechibhyoh Namaha Benefits: This asana is the same asana you do in the No.5 position i.e Parvatasana. Like a mountain it helps in strengthening your arms and shoulders. Your back gets toned due to the elongation of the spine. This is a very good asana for people with bulging bellies as well as increasing waist-line. Any problem with the abdomen is also improved.9. Ashwa-sanchalan-asanaInhale -Om Adityaaya NamahaThis asana is the same asana you do in the No.4 position i.e Ashwa-sanchalan-asana. This pose is very useful for massaging your internal organs for better functionality. Your leg muscles are strengthened creating a proper balance. It affects your mind too as it helps it to remain calm and stable. Throat problems can be erased by regular exercise. 10. Pada Hastana Exhale - Om Savitre Namaha Benefits: This asana is the same asana you do in the No.3 position i.e Pada Hastana . Having problems with your feet or finger? This asana helps you correct it quickly. Your stomach and your digestive system are free from any complication. The bending of your torso helps your chest to broaden. Arms and hands become stronger too. 11. Hasta UttanasanaInhale - Om Arkaaya NamahaBenefits: This asana is the same asana you do in the No.2 position i.e Hasta Uttanasana. The lifting and stretching of the arms helps the muscles in your arms. Your shoulder becomes strong and flexible. Your digestion improves as it tones the lungs while stretching. It is a good remedy to remove excess weight. This improves your vision tremendously. 12. Pranamasana Exhale - Om Bhaaskaraaya NamahBenefits: This asana is the same asana you do in the No.1 position i.e Pranamasana. This position clams your nerves as it eases your body and lets you have a sense of balance.Ashtanga Namaskar asana ends with the same asana as we had started with i.e Pranamasana.Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautions while attempting to perform any of the asanas. If you are suffering from any health problems consult your doctor and your yoga instructor before trying the asanas. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
Ashtanga Yoga is the type of yoga which was created and established by a master named K. Pattabhi Jois. Due to it's theory containing eight different limbs, or components, it is also known as "Eight-Limb Yoga". It doesn't imply that the practitioner has a double set of limbs, but master Pattabhi Jois showed that the optimum path of purification is made up of the eight spiritual practices. The basic idea is that these limbs only can be kept in balance by the appropriate application of the Ashtanga Yoga method. The first four limbs that symbolize Ashtanga Yoga, and are considered externally correctable are (original names within double quotes):- Moral codes or "yama"- Self-purification or "niyama"- Posture or "asana"- Breath control or "pranayama" Then there is the other set of limbs which are the internal practices: - Sense control or "pratyahara"- Meditation or "dhyana"- Concentration or "dharana"- Contemplation or "samadhi"K. Pattabhi Jois declared that practicing these Eight Limbs as well as its sub-limbs of the external practices which contain the niyama and yama is impossible. In doing so, the body should be strong so that it can technically perform the methods well enough. If the body is weak, and the sense organs are not functioning well, practicing will never be productive at all. This is a primary philosophy that K. Pattabhi Jois has applied, it is of prime importance for the Asthanga practitioner to learn and understand this way of thinking. This will make you confident in that the body will significantly improve and become stronger and healthier. Vinsaya and Tristhana are performed in Ashtanga Yoga.The Vinsaya is a style that makes Ashtanga and its fundamental principles different from the others. Vinsaya basically means the movement and breathing which is used effectively together in order to cleanse the body. Each movement done is accompanied by only one breath. Sweat is the most important product of Vinsaya. When you produce sweat, it only indicates that you are successfully applying the method. When you perform the Asanas, or postures, the body produces heat which causes your blood to "boil" and excrete the toxins outside of your body. The contaminations are found in your sweat. So the more sweat you produce, the more toxins are released. This is the natural way for the body to get rid of unwanted substances.The poses are used to fully develop the physical strength and health of the body. It is the sequence of practices that make this possible. There are three postures used in Ashtaga Yoga.The three are grouped on different levels:- The first is the Primary Series which aims on aligning the body and also detoxifying it. - The second is the Intermediate Series opening and cleansing the energy channels which comes to the process of purifying the Nervous System.- The last series would be the Advanced Series from A to D. In this set, the grace and strength are assessed. The Tristhana is another yoga principle which symbolizes the close union of the three places of action and attention. First is the posture, second is the breathing technique ad last is the Dristhi of the Looking Place. All these three should work altogether to perform a function. The breathing is always controlled and synchronized with the movements, in such a way that each movement is accompanied by breath. Ujjayi Breathing is the Yoga Breathing Technique used in the implementation of Ashtanga Yoga. Applying this ancient technique is something that you should work on gradually in your daily practise. What you need to master is holding your pose longer at the same time hold your breath. This is an amazing breathing exercise that will intensify your internal fire and will toughen the Nervous System. Both Ashtanga and Tristhana deal with the series of Dristhi. The Dristhi is defined as the point on which you acquire your focus or concentration while doing the Asana. This allows your mind to be purified and stabilized clearly. Clearing your mind (that is sometimes compared to an over active monkey) and cleansing it is the ultimate goal in the Eight-Limb Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.