Ashtanga, in Sanskrit, is combined with two words – Ashta and Anga. Ashta refers to eight and Anga means steps or limbs. This way, Ashtanga Yoga means 8 aspects of yoga. Yoga is a tangible and united approach of gaining liberation from ultimate feeling of excellent consciousness and suffering.
The eight aspects are Niyama (observances), Yama (Restraints), Asana (Poses), Pratyahara (releasing the senses), Pranayama (breathing control), Dhyana (meditation), Dharana (Concentration), and Samadhi (Absorption). Yamas are actually moral codes that free the life and mind of yoga practitioner from unwanted feelings and thoughts that result in incorrect actions. Yamas consist of Satya (Truthfulness), Ahimsa (non-violence), Brahmacharya (preserving important energy), Asteya (non-theft), and Aparighraha (non-violence), and Aparighraha (non-envy).
Niyamas are the activities and thoughts that promote state of mind conductive to yoga. The Niyamas consist of Santosha (contentment), Saucha (cleanliness), Svadhyaya (learning the supreme), Tapas (heat), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to the lord). The practice of Asana is known to be the gateway to the steps of yoga. Practicing asana consists of Pranayama and it returns the body to radiant state and it purifies the subtle energy of your body. It prepares your mind for meditation and promotes dysfunctional behavior patterns to be removed.
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga class Rishikesh actually consists of the method of yoga practice. It was described by Vamana Rishi in Yoga Kurunta. It consists of hundreds of poses that are linked by Vinyasa in sequences. Vinyasa is considered to be the breath-based movements between poses. These actions are known to be emphasized in the method of Ashtanga Vinyasa. In Ashtanga Vinyasa method, three actions are emphasized – Dristi (looking or gazing at each posture), Bandhas (energy seals or locks), and Oujaji Pranayama (sound which induces breath applied to both exhaling and inhaling breath). Asana reveals culmination of Ashtanga once these principles are applied well.