“Offer the out breath as a sacrifice to the in breath, and the in breath to the out breath.”
-The Bhagavad Gita IV.29
Attention to the breath allows us to realize our connection to the divine and is integral to the Ashtanga Yoga method. Ashtanga means “eight limbs” and refers to the eight steps towards truth described by Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The external limbs (yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama) provide the foundation for the natural development of the internal limbs (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi). Through consistent practice carried out with dedication, devotion and discipline, Ashtanga yoga, leads to the withdrawal of the senses, concentration, and mental clarity which lead the practitioner to discover their full potential.
Physical postures or asanas are practiced in unison with energy locks (bandhas), deep, even breathing (ujjayi), and a steady gaze (drishti) to purify the physical body and the energetic channels. Postures are linked together through vinyasas. Vinyasa means “careful placement” and refers to the joining of breath and movement. The constant flow of action and counteraction creates a methodical rhythm but also requires significant effort which challenges us to find sweetness and steadiness in each posture despite the physical rigor. This practice generates internal heat which purifies the organs and channels, tones the muscles, and removes toxins. Practiced patiently and sequentially with the correct method, Ashtanga yoga has the power to heal and transform.