Ashtanga Yoga

Yoga – The Science of Life.

Yoga has been deeply misunderstood in the West and has been reduced to the physical postures (asanas), as if it is merely a set of gymnastic exercises. Coming to the Yoga path, it is important to understand its original concept and meaning.

The Sanskrit word “Yoga” means “Union”. The root, “yuj” (meaning “unity” or “yoke”), indicates that the purpose of yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature. Until this union takes place, we identify ourselves with our limitations – the limitations of the body, mind, and senses. Thus we feel incomplete and limited, and are subject to feelings of sorrow, insecurity, fear, and separation, because we have separated ourselves from the experience of the whole

Yoga defines itself as a science – that is, as a practical, methodical, and systematic discipline or set of techniques that have been tried and tested through thousands of years, and that have the goal of helping human beings to become aware of their deepest nature. The goal of seeking to experience this deepest potential is not part of a religious process, but an experiential science of self-study.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga literally means eight limbs and is defined by the sacred yogic text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as Yama (moral codes), Niyama (self-purification and study), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense control), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (total peace/liberation).

The easiest and most common part of Yoga for Westerners to learn, is the asanas (the postures), but it is important to bear in mind that this is only a small part of the 8 fold path of Yoga and that one should incorporate the other parts too in order for yoga to serve its purpose.

The Ashtanga Vinyasa System

The Ahtanga Vinyasa Yoga System is said to have originated in an ancient text called the Yoga Koruntha, compiled by Vamana Rishi, which Krishnamacharya received from his guru. Krishnamachary has had considerable influence on many of the modern forms of yoga taught today. Among his students were many notable present-day teachers such as Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Indra Devi, and Krishnamacharya’s son T.K.V. Desikachar.

Krishnamacharya was well known for tailoring his teachings to address specific concerns of the person or group he was teaching, and a vinyasa series is a result of this.

The best known modern teacher of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is Sri Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India, who brought the Ashtanga system to the West, and who has maintained the purity and tradition of this system.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Practise

“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory” (Sri K.Pattabhi Jois)

The practise of Ashtanga Vinyasa involves a dynamic flow of asanas united with awareness and control of the breath (ujjay breath). It is a system consisting of 6 series, but most practitioners spend years on the primary series. During the practise the practitioner works up an internal heat which helps detoxify the body, developing strength and flexibility in both body and mind. The unity of asana with breath makes it a body awareness technique aimed at liberating your consciousness from old, habitual ways of thinking, being and acting.

Although Ashtanga Vinyasa is taught in led classes, its original form is one where the practitioner practises in his/her own rhythm, a way of practise called Mysore (named after Pattabhi Jois’ home city in India).

After an Ashtanga vinyasa class, you will feel invigorated, stronger and more supple in body, as well as more tranquil and at peace in yourself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s