Anga - Yoga Lingo
Anga is a Sanskrit word that translates as ‘limb.’ The term also received fame as the name of a historical kingdom in the Indian subcontinent. This kingdom is believed to have existed between approximately 1100 and 500 BCE.
The name is thought to have been derived from the alleged founder, Prince Anga. Another theory comes from ‘Ramayana,’ and suggests that the site is the location at which the Hindu god, Shiva, killed Kamadeva, and his body parts – angas, or limbs, were dispersed.
Its capital city crowned this kingdom, Champa, which sat on the right bank of the Ganges - is believed to be where the site of modern-day Bhagalpur lies. The city contains several religious sites and temples, making it a focus for pilgrimage.
The site is listed as one of the six great nations in the Buddhist texts and boasts a rich spiritual heritage, and is still recognized in the present-day site of the capital city.
In addition to historic sites, anga is renowned for another reason - its position in ‘Ashtanga,’ or the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The term is derived from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and refers to his Eight-Fold path of yoga. This concept consists of eight steps on the road to internal purification, which help lead to the discovery of the Universal of Supreme Self.
The Eight Limbs are recognized as follows:
- Yama (universal morality)
- Niyama (self-study and discipline)
- Asana (posture)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (control of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (union with the Divine)
Like so many yogic terms, ‘anga’ is a word that has been taken and woven into the wider culture and context of yoga. The Eight Limbs are a core aspect of yoga, and the practices and ideas contained within it permeate every aspect of the system; the ‘limb’ is the balance and strength of yoga itself.