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Ashtanga Yoga Revealed
Replacing Myths with Reality

Even if you've never tried Ashtanga Yoga, you probably think you know what it is, right? It's that Power Yoga practice, where you need to be an athlete to do it. The whole point is to move from one pose to the next as quickly as possible (and they're all really, really hard poses). You're burning calories and working up a sweat. This is the Yoga to take if you want to get into shape. It's not about that meditative-type stuff.

(Article continued below.)

If that's what you think, you are pretty far from the truth. A small fraction of the above paragraph is true - you do get pretty sweaty practicing Ashtanga Yoga and actually, yes, you will become very physically fit if you practice it regularly (keep in mind that real Ashtanga Yoga enthusiasts practice six days a week). But it's also all about focus and meditation, along with breathing. And it isn't Power Yoga - especially when you consider how carelessly the term "Power Yoga" is thrown around these days.

If you want to get really literal about it, Ashtanga is Yoga. The word "Ashtanga" is Sanskrit for eight limbs, which brings us right back to the Eightfold Path that Patanjali spoke of in the Yoga Sutras. According to K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru who introduced this style of Yoga to the twentieth century, what we know now as Ashtanga is what Patanjali originally meant as the physical aspect of Yoga. Ideally, those who study Ashtanga Yoga will explore all the limbs of Yoga, but Jois's approach begins with Asana. Those who make it through all six of Ashtanga's series of postures are in for a wild physical and psychological ride. And, along the way, they will gain an intense understanding of what those eight limbs really mean.

Next page >> Ashtanga Yoga's Origins >> 2, 3

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