This blog post is an introduction into Yoga philosophy, if you're interested in finding out more, watch out for my free yoga philosophy beginners course. Regardless of whether you fully invest in the ideas or not I hope you find them enjoyable and interesting.
In the West when we say we are going to a Yoga class, we really mean we are going to a “Yoga-asana” class.
Asana means pose or seat, in Sanskrit. The names of the poses we do, all end in Asana, eg. ‘Tadasana’ is mountain pose because Tad means mountain and Asana means pose.
The asanas are the yoga poses & postures that improve the wellness of the body and mind, so we can experience life at a higher state of awareness and clarity.
Our experience of the world depends entire upon the state of our nervous system, the asanas stabilise and revitalise the nervous system, strengthen and open the body, whilst settling the mind.
There are many different schools of asana practice.
I am an Iyengar Yogasana teacher because I’m trained in the method that was created and taught by BKS Iyengar and his family, who continue to teach & develop this method in Pune, India.
However, the Asanas are just one ‘branch’ of a larger ‘8-branched-system’, that is traditionally known as Astanga Yoga.*
You can just practice the branch of the asanas, and feel much better for it.
However, “If you do just stick to one branch, then it is like buying an 8-step ladder only using the first step, then thinking ‘Oh this is good, I’ll stop right here’.”**
This 8-branched-system is known as Astanga Yoga** because “Asta” in Sanskrit means 8
The 8 parts are:
‘Yoga is an 8 branch system that allows us to move from our ‘over-identification’ with our changing body and fluctuating mind, and ‘re-identify’ with what we truly are.’
The concept of what we truly are, is that we are something much bigger, and better, than our body, mind, emotions, thoughts, memories, roles we play, and the possessions we own.
These are false identities. We will explore this more in blog 2.
** Quote from Jackie Pascal, A US based yoga teacher.
***Astanga yoga is also the name of a type of asana practice. Its full name is Astanga-vinyasana. This was an asana practice developed by a contemporary of BKS Iyengar yogi called Pattabhi Jois and this is not the Astanga Yoga that I’m referring to in the above.
This is lesson one of a free yoga philosophy course, to access the full course click here - coming soon!*