8 limbs of Patanjali -
Ashta = 8 Anga = Limbs
Yama - Restraints
Niyama - Observances
Asana - Postures
Pranayama - Breath Control
Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the senses
Dhrana - Concentration
Dyana - Meditation
Samadhi - A state of super consciousness
Patanjali was a great sage, said to have lived sometime prior to 400 CE, exactly when he lived is unknown. He is responsible for compiling the yoga sutras.
In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means "eight limbs". These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one's health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.
The history of Ashtanga Vinyasa seems to go something like this.
An ancient text called Yoga Korunta by author Vamana Rishi, was imparted to Sri T Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s, by his Guru Yogeshwara Ramamohana Bramachari. This text contained all of the asanas and vinyasas of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. It is believed that this text was supposedly eaten by ants, so it difficult to prove it ever existed. Krishnamacharya taught the postures to one of his students Sri K Patthabi Jois who added the half Vinyasa and organised the postures into the system that we know today. Patthabi Jois is responsible for spreading the Ashtanga Vinyasa system to the West, via his American students, that began practicing under him in the 1960's.
Upon reading Yoga Makaranda (1934) by T Krishnamacharya, one can see that all the postures of the primary series, along with some of the postures from the intermediate and advanced series are all present.
It is also worth noting that in Yoga Makaranda the use of props is mentioned for those who aren’t yet performing the full posture. Contrary to popular belief that B.K.S Iyengar invented the use of props.
Krishnamacharya at times would also include mantra during asana, this is popular today in Vini Yoga and Tantric Hatha Yoga.
It is very clear that many yoga masters took a string from the vast bow that was Krishnamachrya ’s knowledge bank, and followed that particular essence through out their teaching lives.
For more information and history on the Ashtanga Vinyasa system please click on the link.
Chintamani Yoga Blog by Gregor Meahle.