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Yoga Surya Ashtanga

Yoga is a science of self-realization. The asanas (stances) are the best know part of Yoga in the Western world. However Yoga, which means UNION, encompasses a whole set of practices of which asanas are but a tiny part. The path of Yoga brings tools to put back one's values to the fore, calm the ego, manage emotions, control senses and develop awareness.

Through bodywork, breathing and meditation the practice of Yoga aims at soothing the whole being. The are prerequisites, neither physical nor mental, to practice Yoga. All that is needed is a willigness to learn about oneself and the world.

"Human beings experience wildly varying living conditions, constitutions, temperaments, physical and mental states; the asanas help allievate suffering of human beings and restore harmony in a variety of situations. Similarly different types of pranayamas were conceived in response to the physical, psychical, intellectual and spiritual needs of the sadhakas in a host of circumstances."

B.K.S Iyengar

Yoga is an ancestral practice which emerged in India alog with ayuerveda. The word "yoga" comes the sanskrit root "YUG", usually translated as "join" or "unite". Yoga thus means union. It derives from the teachings of wise people (rishis) from about 10,000 years ago. The vedic knowledge system states that the whole universe is ONE and that cosmic knowledge is in our hearts and minds.

Yoga aims at self-actualization. It is a holistic approach to human being based on a three-dimension referential: body, soul and mind. Ashtanga yoga (eight-limbed yoga in Sanskrit) is a path to self-actualization comprised of 8 stages. It was described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra about 2,000 years ago. It is a sytemic approach whose practice is a scientific method to move beyond the barriers of our perception.

The stages are the following:

  1. Yama: Rules of social conduct (in order to have no harmful impact, nor negative interactions);
  2. Niyama: Rules of personal behavior (necessary for building up a personal yogic practice) and bases of ayurvedic diet (balancing the constitution);
  3. Asanas: Physical stances (correct stances in harmony with our inner conscience);
  4. Pranayama: Control of vital force (work on breathing in order to soothe the vital force; senses, emotions and ego);
  5. Pratyahara: Control of senses (proper organization of senses in order to perceive beyond them or soothe them);
  6. Dharana: Proper awareness or mental control (concentration on objetcs, specific concepts);
  7. Dhyana: Meditation (abilty to sustain attention without distractions in order to objectively perceive things);
  8. Samadhi: Absorption (ability to be ONE with the WHOLE, merging which comes from true meditation).

Items 1 to 5 represent the outer aspects of Yoga, with stages 1 and 2, being preliminary to a deeper practice. Items 3 to 5 are about control of outer aspects of our nature via the body, the breathing and the senses. Finally stages 6 to 8 lead to the true knowledge of SELF.

It is asanas which are best known in the Western world and are used to prepare the mind for concentration and meditation. They are also beneficial for the body and the mind depending on the stances themselves and how they are used in practice. It is essentially about taking time for oneself, dive inside in order to take care of oneself. The additional benefit is an increased awareness of others and the world that surrounds us.