ASHTANGA YOGA NOIDA
Aṣhṭāṅga yoga is a method to understand your inner self. Through the eight limbs, we can rid ourselves of the six poisons. He or she who tries to get rid of all these things, we call them a sādhaka. A sādhaka is more than a practitioner. He or she is focused on how to eliminate the six enemies within. This effort, when undertaken, is called sādhanā. Sadhana is the state of the yogi. A sādhaka lives differently because he is striving to a higher level of being. Through dedication and devotion to his goal, his perception changes, his views change, his thoughts also change—everything will change within him as he goes to higher levels. Yoga liberates us from the poisons within ourselves. The purification happens in the body as well as the mind.
A yogi is untouched by poisons. This is the purpose of doing yoga and this is the state of a yogi. We must always put more effort towards this through dedication and devotion to experience clarity within ourselves. It doesn’t matter where you are.
- The Ashtanga method has eight limbs.
- The first four are the external pillars: yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama.
- Yama has sublimbs, which are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha.
- The niyama sublimbs are saucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya, Ishvara pranidhana.
These are all very important ingredients essential for our spiritual journey. If you want to get deeper in your practice, these ingredients are indispensable. Without these ingredients, you will never understand yoga. You will live your entire life missing out and thinking yoga is what flexible people do in photographs and videos like leg-behind-the-head and handstands. It’s attractive, it makes for a nice photo, but it is not yoga.
The remaining four limbs—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi—are internal practices.
Once the first four limbs are established, the other four will automatically happen. You don’t have to try, they will automatically happen. Of course, these are higher, more subtle levels of yoga. To achieve these, you have to get rid of many patterns, attachments, dispositions, many things.
This will be a life-long practice and the real transformation happens once one is educated in all the limbs. Without understanding yoga through proper education, it is impossible to understand what yoga is. Yet what is meant by education here is the practice, putting theory into practice, not necessarily a formal education.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, used to always say “99% practice, 1% theory,” but oftentimes, people got this wrong. They practiced asana from morning until evening. What he meant was to practice the theory, the yamas and niyamas, all the time. To do this, you don’t sit around and read about it in books, you have to live it. Can you expect to calm the mind by reading citta vritti nirodha (the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras)? Simply reading it, even a thousand times, won’t make it happen, and it will probably do just the opposite. Yoga theory must be put into practice all the time. Only when you apply all the things in your daily life will citta vritti nirodha happen.