The world of yoga, with its multitude of styles and approaches may be seen as a forest of trees, with all of these trees having the same goal: reaching for the light. One approach or style is not better than the other. Choose one and stick to it. You may want to compare this with digging for water. When after digging you still have not found water you look for another spot and start anew to subsequently will not find it there either. Stay with one technique and you will deepen enough to find water/yourself?
The ashtanga yoga, as taught in the yogashala, is derived from the teachings of K.Pattabhi Jois, who in turn learned this dynamic method from his teacher Krishnamacharya. This approach is based on a specialized sequencing of postures and focused breathing technique. A set serie of postures that, when practiced regularly, its benefits can be reaped. Practice is the only way to ‘feed’ this ashtanga tree. K.Pattabhi Jois is fond of saying: “99% practice, 1% theory”.
Ashtanga means 8 branches.
Yama ( interaction with everyting and everyone around you)
Niyama ( self observation)
Asana (bodily awareness)
Pranayama ( breath awareness)
Pratyahara ( interaction of the senses)
Dhyana ( meditation)
Practice is the only way of feeding these branches.We will become more and more aware of what we put in our bodies and how we interact with the world around us.
This first serie, is called ‘Yoga Chikitsa’ which means yoga therapy. It is a healing process of cleansing the body that will improve the breathing and allows the energy to flow freely. Feeling more and more at home in the body and at ease in challenging times. These 8 limbs will develop at their own pace, there is no way to rush this, a tree grows not by pulling its branches. Be patient and open.
The ashtanga method can be utilized to keep physically fit and energized. Or you may use it to explore the unseen world. Whatever purpose, there is only one way to reap its benefits…
From its tradition, the ashtanga method has its own opening- and closing prayer. Because of this deep-rooted tradition the songs are in Sanskrit, the old language of India. Although an Indian language, the meaning of the words are universal because it is the language of the heart. Singing shifts the consciousness to a higher level of vibration, a part of us that is unlimited and infinite.
The recitation of these mantras gives a clear beginning and ending of the practice. Its vibration cleanses the energy of the space where the practice takes place. It may feel a bit awkward at first but whether you feel it or not the old Sanskrit words are effective. Preparing the practitioner physically, mentally and emotionally for the forthcoming sequence.
The Openings Prayer is a blessing of gratitude offered to the lineage of teachers and their students who have enabled this ancient pratice to survive through thousands of years so that we can experience its benefits today. Loosely it translates as:
With gratitude, I bow to the two Lotus feet of all the teachers that have come before me.
I surrender to the divine presence which removes the poisons of my conditioned existence
And awakens my true being into pure happiness
VANDE GURUNAM CHARANARAVINDE, SANDARSHITA SVATMA, SUKHAVA BODE
NISHREYASE, JANGALIKAYAMANE, SAMSARA HALAHALA, MOHASHANTYAI
ABAHU PURUSHAKARAM, SHANKA CHAKRASI DHARINAM
SAHASRA SHIRASAM SHVETAM, PRANAMAMI PATANJALIM
The closing prayer brings the practice to a peaceful end, sealing in the work done and offering our efforts to improve the state of the world, living in harmony with everything and everyone around us.
It translates as:
May all of the beings be happy and well, may leaders govern to world with law and justice
and protect the earth in every way by the path of just virtue,
May the knower of the truth be free from fear, may all the worlds be happy.
Peace, peace, peace
SVASTI PRAJA BYAHA, PARIPALAYANTAM
NYAYENA MARGENA, MAHIM MAHISAHA
GO BRAHMANEBHYAHA, SUBHAMASTU NITYAM
LOKAA SAMASTHAA SUKHINO BHAVANTU
AUM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI AUM
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