Hatha vs. Ashtanga Yoga

January 5, 2010

Contrary to popular western belief, there are only two main kinds of yoga – hatha and ashtanga. Hatha yoga is more austere, and involves a severe kind of physical penance where postures are held for a longer period of time. When postures transition gracefully from one to the next, they are referred to as hatha vinyasa (a perfect example is the sun salutation, and its 12 variations). Ashtanga yoga on the other hand has eight tributaries as the name suggests (in Sanskrit, ashta = eight; and anga = limb/s). The eight limbs of ashtanga yoga are iyama (social discipline), niyama (personal discipline), pranayama (breath control), asana (posture practice), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (superconscious/ transcendental state).

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