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What is Ashtanga yoga? How does it benefit you, keep you fit and without body fat?

Holding yoga postures, which are steady, comfortable and relaxed, helps tone your cardio-vascular system, says holistic health coach Dr Mickey Mehta

Ashtanga yoga health benefitsThere are various studies that have demonstrated the health effects of Ashtanga yoga. A study in 2017 found it reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. (Pic source: Dr Mickey Mehta)

Life is in a flow and Ashtanga yoga is a form that is most athletic and disciplined among all forms of yoga, with its postures flowing easily from one to the next in rapid and seamless continuity. It calms your mind and builds strength in your muscles. It brings absolute equilibrium – from noise to silence, from disturbance to harmony, from pull and push to perfect body balance. Best of all, its poses can be done at home.

HEALTH BENEFITS

When your body and mind are in sync with controlled movements and breath patterns, this automatically relaxes your nervous system and keeps your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure in check.

There are various studies that have demonstrated the health effects of Ashtanga yoga. A study in 2017 found it reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. Subsequently, in small cohorts, it was found to strengthen leg muscles among women, reduce pains and aches and encourage mindful eating among practitioners. These days mindful eating is gaining traction where you follow your hunger cues to determine when and what to eat. Basically, it tones up your cardio-vascular health, keeps you strong and fit and prevents accumulation of body fat.

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yoga Ashtanga yoga calms your mind and builds strength in your muscles. (Pic source: Micky Mehta)

COMPONENTS OF ASHTANGA YOGA

Ashtanga yoga can be explained in many ways, one of them being the eight limbs of yoga. It comprises Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyaana, Samadhi.

yoga When your body and mind are in sync with controlled movements and breath patterns, this automatically relaxes your nervous system and keeps your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure in check. (Pic source: Micky Mehta)

Yama: It is about how we behave and interact with the world. It is about ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), non-aggression, peace, bliss and contentment. We must live with as much we need. We must do things selflessly without having any expectations.

Niyama: This deals with our personal discipline and practices. This focusses on the cleanliness of our habits and austerity, which is about not falling prey to desires and aspirations unnecessarily and leaving it quite simply in the centre.

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Yoga A study in 2017 found Ashtanga yoga reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. (Pic source: Micky Mehta)

Asana: Sitting in yoga postures which should be steady, comfortable and relaxed. Being in equilibrium at this physical level helps balance all energies. Usually involves forward bends, extended triangles and stretches, all of which help build your strength and flexibility and work up the entire cardio-vascular system.

Pranayama: It is the breath work or breath control practised with different asanas, the inhalation and the exhalation, and holding the breath as per individual capacity.

yoga Ashtanga yoga is a form that is most athletic and disciplined among all forms of yoga, with its postures flowing easily from one to the next in rapid and seamless continuity. (Pic source: Micky Mehta)

Pratyahara: Moving out from the outside world and looking within. It is about withdrawing our awareness from the world outside to turning inwards. In this stage, one has the control of physiological responses and does not give in easily to the wants.

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Dharana: Focussed and complete concentration where our mind is fixed on a particular meditation or chant.

Dhyana: This is the stage where one is so focussed that meditation happens without any interruption. This is meditation with absolute mental control.

Samadhi: This is called the final stage of enlightenment where one is completely at one with the rhythms of nature. If we were to put it in simple words, this involves self-discipline, observation of alignment in body postures, regulated breath and having the determination to do something, an absolute evolution. There is an incredible lightness of being.

First published on: 24-01-2023 at 16:30 IST
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