I did a Google Search for “ashtanga yoga pose” today, just to see what will come up. All ten first-page results gave me exactly what I didn’t want … It gave me websites about the wrong ashtanga yoga.

There’s more than one Ashtanga yoga?
No, not really … but in recent times the word “ashtanga” has been attached to a dynamic system of yoga-based exercises … and it’s become so popular that it has literally taken over the word ashtanga yoga as its own, leaving many practitioners of the traditional system of ashtanga yoga baffled and dismayed.
To them, yoga is a sacred, disciplined, eight-limbed science for personal development and inner transformation … a system that includes much more than what is utilized in the newer, fitness centered pop-ashtanga version.

Are you a one-limbed yogi?
Most yoga enthusiasts know that there’s more to yoga than just stretching. What that “more” is, though, probably isn’t too clear for a lot of folks.
You’ve probably heard about the morals and ethis part … the yamas and niyamas. But we’ve all had enough of the “how to be good lessons” growing up, haven’t we? We’re adults now, so who needs more of it now?
It’s the stretching we want. Ashtanga yoga poses keep Madonna looking pretty fit in her 50s, and Jennifer Aniston looking younger every day. I’m willing to give it a shot then.
Oh, and you know about the breathing too, right? Pranayama is it? It sure doesn’t get any more BORING than that, right? Anyhow, we all know how to breath, so why bother?
There’s more to yoga though (much more than those first four limbs that you probably just skimmed over anyhow). What, however, is the question. The higher stages of yoga never get much press, and that’s the big shame …
… Because that’s actually where REAL YOGA begins. Yeah, I’m sorry to break it to you, but if all you’ve been doing is twisting and bending your body and doing a little alternate nostril breathing here and there, then you haven’t even really started yoga yet.

Why bother with those first four limbs then?
Well, as the saying goes, “you have to crawl before you can walk.” Actually, I heard someone say that “a baby doesn’t crawl because it can’t walk … it crawls so that it eventually can!”
That’s what the first four limbs of yoga do … they prepare us to be able to successfully engage in the higher stages … the next 4 limbs where yoga really gets going. Yes, the modern yoga class may be closer to yoga preschool than most of us want to admit, but it’s a necessary step in the yoga process none the less.
Of course, your yoga teacher may not quite put it that way. Most tend to keep pretty quiet about the higher stages of yoga … probably for good reason. Firstly, very few students are ready to go there yet … and also, well … ahem … actually a lot of teacher haven’t really gone too far in that direction yet themselves.
In all fairness, these four higher stages of yoga aren’t child's play, and to become a “certified yoga teacher” today doesn’t require anywhere near mastery of them. But the four higher stages of yoga are where the real transformational benefits of yoga are found.
So if we want to use yoga for more than just shedding a few pounds or killing a bit of stress, then we need to set our sites on this higher realm. If not, we’ll be stuck in the land of preparation. What exactly we’re preparing for, though, is the real question.

Author's Bio: 

Yogacharya Michael is the Founder of International Yogalayam http://www.discover-yoga-online.com and creator of The Yoga Tutor, a step-by-step online yoga training website. For your FREE TRIAL of The Yoga Tutor, visit http://www.theyogatutor.com

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