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Ashtanga means Eight Limbs.  To be practicing Ashtanga Yoga you must practice all 8 limbs. We must always remember that Asanas (postures) are only one aspect  of this practice, and we need to look into how to include all limbs to become Ashtanga practitioners. The Ashtanga yoga practice which  was systemised by Sri K Pattabhi Jois 

Ashtanga Koh Phangan: Prasarita Padotanasana Eva Zikis


Ashtanga means Eight Limbs where ashta = eight and anga = limbs.  Ashtanga is the Eight Limbed path of yoga.  

The eight limbs of yoga are prescribed to us by Patañjali in the ancient Yoga Sutras.  

The eight limbs which if perfectly followed consistently and for a long period of time (most likely lifetimes) will lead us to Samadhi and or Moksha (liberation).   It is considered a science to liberation or what in the west we call enlightenment. The Limbs are as follows;

  • YAMAS               These are five observances and behaviours which regulate how we behave to others

  • NIYAMAS           These are the five commitments to ourselves and principles  that we should follow.

  • ASANA               Asana means comfortable seat.  The postures made in practice are called asanas

  • PRĀNĀYĀMA     Control of pranayama through breathing techniques

  • PRATYĀHĀRA    Withdrawal of senses from objects

  • DHĀRAN            Intense concentration

  • DHYĀNA            Closest translation is meditation

  • SAMĀDHI          A difficult word to translate as few have experienced it.  Can be described as highest                                 state of conciseness, liberation from samsara or karma.

The first four limbs are something that we can practice actively, i.e. they take place on an external level.  When the first four limbs are strong within the Sādhaka (spiritual seeker), eventually the other four gradually take place internally within him or herself.



following this system is meant to be a way to samadhi or moksha liberation 

If one is not following the eight limbs they are not practicing ashtanga yoga.  Asana alone, without consciousness and breath control is not yoga, it is no more than gymnastics.


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