Types of Yoga
There are many different types of yoga being advertised nowadays, causing a lot of confusion for people! All yoga is technically speaking Ashtanga yoga as all yoga follows the eight limbs as described by Patanjali. However, these days the term is commonly used to describe the method taught by the late Shri, K. Pattabhi Jois.
The eight limbs are described by Patanjali as:
- Yamas (ethical discliplines), ahimsa (non-violence), satya (thruthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (refraining from sexual indulgence), aparigraha (detachment)
- Niyamas (observation & purification): sauca (cleanliness, purity), santosha (contentment), tapah (austerity), svadhyaya (study towards self knowledge), ishwara-pranidhana (surrender to God/higher self)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (consciousness itself)
The eight branches mutually support each other and are learned and taken into daily committed action. An established asana practice prepares dedicated yogis for a balanced practice of the more subtle limbs such as pranayama which are the key to embodying the yamas and niyamas.
The living Guru of Ashtanga Yoga R. Sharath Jois explains the subtle depths of Ashtanga Yoga in this recent quote:
“I’ve seen many other systems of yoga, which are not even close to Ashtanga Yoga: they don’t give any prominence to breathing or gazing (drishti) or all those things. In Ashtanga the main thing is not only posture but you have to do the breathing correctly, that is ujjayi breathing and vinyasa krama – that vinyasa krama I’ve not seen in any other form yoga. This is a very powerful practice”.
R. Sharath Jois.
The most essential part of any type of yoga is the breath and the beauty of Ashtanga yoga is that it is a breathing process. The postures are used as tools to enable practitioners to tap in to the true vision of yoga. Traditionally in Ashtanga yoga, mastery of the asana/postures is only achieved once mastery of the breath is achieved. Once this happens, the asana/posture is calm and steady and more importantly, the mind becomes calm and steady.