About Ashtanga Yoga

The Ashtanga Yoga method is a living tradition with a strong relationship between teacher and student. Its origins go back over 5000 years. At the root it is a spiritual practise that purifies the heart, body and mind, illuminating one’s own divine nature.

In modern times Ashtanga Yoga is linked to the Yoga Master Sri K. Patthabi Jois, Guruji (1915-2009) who passionately spread the beauty of the practise to countless people all over the world. Now his teachings are carried forward by his Grandson R. Sharath Jois, the director of KPJAYJ in Mysore India, his daughter Saraswathi Jois, his son Manju Jois in California USA and his granddaughter Sharmila Mahesh in Bagalore India .

 

‘Ashtanga’ literally means 8 limbs. They are described by Patanjali as:

  • YAMA (moral codes)

  • Niyama (self-observation)

  • Asana (posture)

  • Pranayama (breath control) 

  • Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)

  • Dharana (concentration)

  • Dhyana (meditation)

  • Samadhi (contemplation state of peace)

 

 

These 8 branches support each other. Asana practises must be established for proper practise of Pranayama and is a key to the development of the Yamas and Niyamas. Once the 4 externally oriented limbs are formally rooted the last four internally oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.

 

The main components of Ashtanga yoga are:

Asana – the postures, each posture is 5 breaths

Vinyasa – ‘movement sycronised with breath’

Tristhana – Posture, breathing, and focal point (dristi) bringing together the 3 levels of purification: body, nervous system and mind – they should always be performed in conjunction with one and other.

Dristi - means the place one looks at while in the asana (there are 9 different dristi’s)

 

By synchronizing movement with breathing, and by practising Mula and Uddhiiana Bandha (a locking of abdominal energies which), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals. The breath regulates the Vinyasa and result is a light, strong, healthy body, nervous system and mind.

 

3 series that are practiced in the Ashtanga method, each comprising of different sequences of asanas.

  • The Primary Series (Yoga chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body. Builds strengths stamina and flexibility.

  • The Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels.

  • The Advanced Series A,B,C,D (Sthira Bhaga integrates the strength and grace of the practise requiring higher levels of flexibility and selfawareness.

  • Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next and the sequential order of Asanas is to be strictly followed. Each posture is a preparation of the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.