What is Yoga?
Today most people practicing yoga are doing the physical practice called asana (posture). This is the third limb of the 8 limbs of yoga as described by sage Patanjali in his yoga sutras.
Asana, is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, meaning ‘to yoke’ or bind and is often interpreted as “union”. When we practice our asana we are looking to unify our mind, breath and body.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have systemised the practice of yoga into his writing called Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 196 aphorisms that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. The Yoga Sutras describes eight limbs (ashtanga) of yoga or the 8 fold path as: the yamas (ethical standards and integrity), niyamas (self discipline and spiritual observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing). These are the physical refinements we must make in order to contact our inner world. Once we have calmed the physical we can go inward and work on our spiritual connection. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and finally samadhi (enlightenment or liberation).
Natasya has designed her beginners course around these 8 limbs in order to give the new practitioner not just a solid grounding in the physical postures but also a basic understanding behind the philosophy of the practice.