Aṣṭāṅgāsana – The eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice

With nearly 2000 Posts and Resources on the site I have been reflecting on how to expand the access points and yet simplify the reader experience for visitors. So I started by looking at the Blog Page by reviewing the broad topic categories and considering the need to re-organise the groupings as well as increasing the  range of related topics within the sub-groupings.

The first general topic in the Journal is that of Posts on Yoga Practice and its five main areas for study are:

Going deeper into these five aspects of practice I see that the first topic, that of Āsana & Kriyā Practice, now has some 500 posts in the one thread. Obviously a need for review here! So turning my attention to this I started to consider what would be a useful, yet appropriate way to sub-categorise the topics in this particular section.

This reflection brought me back to two things, that of my own learning and that of my own teaching. Regarding the former there were specific areas in my own studies with Desikachar around the question of how and what to practice in terms of planning an Āsana practice according to the teachings he received from Krishnamacharya.

These, what I would call aspects of the formula for constructing a skilful and place, time and lifestyle appropriate Āsana practice, fall into eight categories. Hence the quip with the title of this post, Aṣṭāṅgāsana or the eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice.

So what are these eight topics? They are:

So these 500 posts will be sub-categorised over the next month to offer the reader both an easier, yet more relevant access point to what constitutes the heart of Practice Planning in this approach. Meanwhile please bear with me as going through 500 posts will take a while to complete.

I will also, in the next post, introduce each of these eight topics to help the reader to appreciate more about what is inherent in the depth and breadth of this approach in terms of Āsana planning having a formula. This way the practice of Āsana avoids falling into the pitfall of becoming formulaic and can remain relevant to all stages of our life journey.

Equally from the viewpoint of my own teaching, these eight aspects of the Āsana practice formula also form the developmental subject matter and focus in the Modules One to Six of the viniyoga of Āsana section of the Yoga Studies Workshop and Course small group study options. These options start with a two day workshop introducing the core topics to be developed in-depth through the follow-on Course Modules Two to Six.

The topics with the viniyoga of Āsana Modular Programme are:

  • Introduction to definition, meaning and context of Āsana
    – Core concept – Nāma Rūpa Lakṣana – name, form and characteristics
  • Introduction to how Āsana are arranged into groups and categories
    – Core concept – Vinyāsa Krama – collecting postures together
  • Introduction to how counterpostures or Pratikriyāsana are used
    – Core concept – Pratikriyāsana– maintaining the balance
  • Introduction to how we breathe in Āsana
    – Core concept – Prāṇāpāna Dhāraṇā – where the focus is
  • Introduction to why we move or stay in Āsana
    Core concept – Circulation and Purification – dynamic and static
  • Introduction to how we adapt our Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Variation and Modification – change and necessity
  • Introduction to how we intelligently plan our Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Bṛṃhaṇa and Laṅghana Kriyā – connecting postures together
  • Introduction to how we observe within our Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Spine, Breath and Attention – learning to look

As mentioned the next post will expand on these Aṣṭāṅgāsana or eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice.

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