What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

Yoga means: union

Vinyasa means: synchronisation of movement and breath, which are key elements to the practice

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic form of hatha yoga; the roots originate from the town of mysore in the south of india.

This method is an ancient system of yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900's by Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during his studies with Krishnamacharya.

The traditional way of practice is called 'Mysore style'.

Ashtanga yoga is a system composed of 6 series of differents asanas (physical postures). They are synchronised with three very important points of focus we call the 'tristhana'. This is composed of the bandha's (energetic locks), breath (Ujjiyi) and dristi (eye focus).

In a mysore style practice the postures are introduced little by little depending on the capacity of the student. By practicing regularly, the student builds up strength, stability and flexibility progressively.

The breathing technique called Ujjayi, or victorious breath consists of puraka (inhalation) and rechaka (exhalation), both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even, the length of the inhale should be the same as the exhale. Over time the length of the breath and intensity of it should increase, the increased stretching of the breath initiates the increased stretching of the body. Long even breathing also increases in the internal fire and strengthens the nervous system. 

The first series was structured to realign and detoxify the body. the intermediate series has a large impact on the nervous system. Only serious dedicated students are able to master these more advanced postures, and obtain a deeper understanding of this practice.

All levels of practice will bring many therapeutic benefits as well as a sense of well being.

The sequences are composed of 6 series:

- The primary series (Yoga Chikitsa = yoga therapy, detoxification, alignment).

- Intermediate series (Nadi Shodana = purification of the nervous system).

- Advanced Series A, B, C and D (Sthira Bhaga = divine stability).

 

Mysore Style

Is the authentic way the method is taught, welcoming both beginners practicing next to advanced students, each developing at their own rhythm, following the rhythm of the breath. The student receives personalised instruction and adjustments depending on there level, constitution, and understanding of the practice. It is an individual practice within a group that will help you to become independent.

Led practice

Led class is for those people who already have a certain experience. The teacher guides the student through the series of postures from the beginning to the end without interruption; therefore this is not for beginners. This permits the student to find fluidity and rhythm that is sometimes lost when only doing Mysore style. The focus of this style of practice is on the synchronisation of the breath with movement.

 

Ashtanga means: Ashtau = eight, anga = limbs. (eight steps).

The ashtanga method, is based on the principles of ashtanga yoga as described by patanjali in the yoga sutras (this text is the codification of the theoretical and philosphical notions of the raja yoga the royal yoga), but it should not be confused ashtanga yoga of Patanjali which refers all schools of yoga and ashtanga vinyasa yoga of Sri k. Pattabhi Jois.

 

The eight steps of Patanjali: 

 

 

1. Yama (ethical principles, the right attitude) there are five Yamas.

 -Ahimsa: respect for life, not violence

- Satya: openness, authenticity, right speech

- Asteya : who does not covet, integrity, selflessness

- Brahmacharya: moderation, a conscious sexual conduct or total      abstinence

- Aparigraha: sobriety, not possession

2. Niyama (observance in daily live) there are five Niyamas

- Shaucha: cleanliness, purity of thought and actions

- Santosha: contentment

- Tapah: discipline

- Svadhyaya: self-study, self-observation

- Isvarapranidhanani: abandonment to divine

 

3. Asana (physical postures)

4. Pranayama (control of vital strength through breathing)

5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses or control)

6. Dharana (concentration)

7. Dhyana (meditation)

8. Samadhi (Totality, liberation)

 

By practicing regularly and conscientiously, we begin to develop the eights steps, starting with asana. We become aware of how we treat our bodies, and the relationship we have with the world around us. Through introspection into the eight limbs of yoga we are develop the right attitude, and we also start to experience a purification of the body through the postures we practice; the mind is fixed on the ujjayi breath, the gazing point (or drishti), and the senses are encouraged to turn inwards and qualities of concentration deepens. Practice evolves into a meditative experience. At this point we create a huge potential to explore the most beautiful phase of yoga in which we realize the pure essence of existence.

The series are repeated day after day, but the practice is never the same. This is what can be observed through the natural cycle of the physical body. The emotions, and the fluctuations are influenced by natural cycles (ie seasons, temperatures, pressures, moons, etc ...) or our attitude to life. We aim to practice with awareness, savoring the experience, and therefore experiencing a wonderful transformation.