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The basis of Ashtanga Yoga is Patanjali's Yoga Philosophy. If we trace roots of Yoga, it dates back to about 5000 years BC as per description in Vedic Philosophy. Patanjali author of book, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, described the fundamental principles of yoga. As he divided yoga into eight branches, yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga Ayurveda refers to the eight limbs of Ayurveda. Ayurveda and Yoga are interdisciplinary subjects.

Definition of Yoga

Yoga is a Science to improve or develop one's inherent power in a balanced way. It offers a great way means to acquire complete self-realization. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Yoga is 'Yoke'. Yoga can better be defined an art of uniting the individual spirit with the universal spirit of God. According to Maharishi Patanjali, Yoga is the suppression of the modifications of the mind.


Ashtanga Yoga

1. Yama : Yama describes moral code. It includes

  • Ahimsa (nonviolence) : Ahimsa is nothing but the practice of non-violence, which includes at physical, mental, and emotional levels. It includes violence against others and self also.
  • Satya (Truth): Satya enkindle us to live and inspires to speak our truth always. If we abide by Satya, it makes us respectable and boosts integrity.
  • Asteya (Non-stealing) : One should not indulge in stealing. Non-stealing lead to generosity and removes greed.
  • Brahmacharya (Celibacy) : Brahmacharya preaches us that when we control our impulses and excitements; we attain knowledge, vigor, and increased energy. This requires courage and ultimately we succeed in our goal. It makes us firm, healthy and wise.
  • Aparigah (Non-coveting) : Aparigah teaches us to limit our demands. We should possess thins according to necessity.

2. Niyama (Observance)

  • Shoucha (Purification) : Shoucha is essential and central aim. The principles and practices of asana, pranayama and meditation are aimed at cleansing the mind and body. One must ensure clean surroundings also.
  • Santosh (Contentment) : Santosh is the acknowledgement and the satisfaction of reaching capacity. The mind can be fooled that one can attain lasting happiness through objects and goods, but personal experience and the teachings of the seers tells that the happiness acquired through materialistic approach is only temporary.
  • Tapa (Asceticism) : Tapa is simply practice of strong self-discipline and maintaining strong of will power. Tapa helps in controlling premature impulses of the mind.
  • Swadhyaya (Self study) : Life is a continuous process and one keeps on learning from daily experiences. Self-study is aimed at seeing what we are in the moment and what we are seeing beyond our current state so as to connect with the divine power.
  • Eshwar Pranidhan (Devotion) : Eshwar Pranidhan is a form of prayer or worship for special use.

3. Asana (Yoga postures)

Asana originally meant a sitting position. According to classical Yoga, pose should be steady and comfortable, solid, but relaxed, helping a practicing person to know more about body, mind, and environment. Several asana has been described for preventing and curing several diseases.

4. Pranayama (Yogic breathing)

Pranayama is an extension and control of breathing. It is basically a Sanskrit term describing extension of the life force.

5. Pratyhara (Restriction of the senses)

Pratyhara is aimed at increasing the power of the mind.

6. Dharna (Improving concentration)

It involves concentrating the mind one object and its sphere.

7. Dhyan (Meditation)

It involves focusing on one point and meditating on it. The chief aim of meditation is to focus and calm the mind, further reaching a higher level of consciousness and mental calm.

8. Samadhi (Salivation)

Samadhi is the state of ultimate bliss, joy and merger of an individual's consciousness into universal consciousness.

Some Practical Facts about Yoga

  • Some studies in pateints suffering from chronic low-backache or pain (due to osteroathritis, slipped-disc, lumber spondylosis or lumbago or lumbo-sacral stain), prove that if certain yoga postures are done under expert supervision, it may alleviate pain, swelling ad stiffness. It may have beneficial effect on the ability to walk and move.
  • A set of studies have confimed beneficial effect of yoga in reducing blood pressure and heart-rate, thereby reducing incidnc of hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease and above all, angina.
  • Yoga has great potential in relieving signs and symptoms associated with clinical depression, anxiety-neurosis, seasonal affective disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Studies conducted in patients suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatism have demonsyated that yogic postures have beneficial but mixed results.
  • Yoga is contraindicated in hypertension, glaucoma, lumbago-sciatica syndrome, and pregnancy.

Yoga and Low Back Pain

Scientific research has confirmed the utility of yoga in the management of low back pain. In a study, conducted by the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health, involving 90 patients prove that regular practice of Iyengar Yoga resulted in less incidence of pain, loss of function and depression.

In yet in another study targeting 228 patients, efficacy of combination of yoga postures with stretching exercises was compared. It was concluded that a combination of yoga postures with stretching exercises improved the symptoms of lumbago.

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