The asthanga yoga is a stream of Yoga which is based on the principle of synchronizing one's breath with various physical postures. This helps to produce heat and eventually profuse sweat that works as a detox agent for the muscles and the internal organs. The word 'Asthanga' means eight limbed yoga as stated by the ancient sage patanjali in his book yoga sutras. According to the book the asthanga helps to purify oneself and revealing self universally through eight spiritual ways; yama or moral codes, niyama or self study, asana or postures, pranayama or controlling of breath, pratyahara or controlling of the senses, dharana or concentration, dhyana or meditation and Samadhi or contemplation.
Astanga Yoga Information
The following information on 'Asthanga' would help you to understand the efficacy in purifying the body and soul with the help of the yoga sutras.
Yama refers to the five main abstentions; ahimsa or non violence, satya or truth, asteya or non covetousness, brahmacharya or abstaining of oneself from sexual intercourse when not married and maintaining monogamy when married. This also includes not breeding of any unholy thoughts of sexuality towards a man or a woman apart from his or her spouse. The fifth abstention is aparigraha or non possessiveness.
The word niyama means the five observances like the shaucha or keeping of body and the mind clean, santosha or satisfaction, tapas or maintenance of a life of austerity or a well disciplined lifestyle including controlling of mind and body, svadhaya or studying of the vedic scriptures to know about God and the awakening of the soul and the last being the Ishvarapranidhana meaning complete submission to the God.
Asana, meaning performing of disciplined postures of the body under a certain set of rules in order to purify the body by keeping it disease and germ free and also keeping the vital energy of the body intact.
The Pranayama or the controlling of the breath helps individuals to have a steady body and increases the capacity to concentrate mind on a certain study.
The pratyahara means the controlling of the senses for a better human life. One has to withdraw the basic senses from the earthly objects.
Dharana is one of the three main aids of the yoga or the ashtanga sadhana where the individual has to concentrate his mind in any object like a burning lamp, the point in between the two eyebrows or on some image of deity.
Dhyana or meditation. While meditating the concentration on the object would be in the form of an undisturbed flow without any interference.
Samadthi or the oneness with the object of meditation.
There are two types of Samadhi which are known as amprajnata Samadhi or conscious Samadhi and Asamprajnata Samadhi or supraconsciousness.