Ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga yoga can be defined as a unique system of yoga that was recorded by sage Vamana Rishi in an ancient manuscript called Yoga Korunta. This manuscript was said to originally contain the lists of various groups of asanas and also the original teachings associated with vinyasa, bandhas, drishti, mudras and philosophy. This Yoga Korunta text was later imparted in early 1900’s to Sri T. Krishnamacharya by his master or Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari which was eventually passed to Pattabhi Jois as he did his yoga studies with Krishnamacharya. This helped Pattabhi Jois to come up with the tenets of Ashtanga Yoga. Pattabhi Jois became a master instructor on Ashtanga yoga since 1948 and Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute was later opened by his disciples.

Important yoga poses

Trikonasana Trikonasana
Baddha Konasana Baddha Konasana
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Virabhadrasana 1 Virabhadrasana 1
Virabhadrasana 2 Virabhadrasana 2

Core aspects of Ashtanga yoga

The term Ashtanga yoga indicates a discipline of “eight-limbed yoga,” which is outlined by sage Patanjali in Yoga Sutras. Sage Patanjali believed that the path of complete internal purification to find the revelation of the Universal Self must be achieved by following the eight spiritual practices:

  • Yama or moral codes
  • Asana or posture
  • Niyama or self-purification and study
  • Pranayama or breath control
  • Dhyana or meditation
  • Pratyahara or sense control
  • Dharana or concentration
  • Samadhi or being absorbed into Universal essence

The first four steps, namely yama, asana, niyama and pranayama are believed to be the external cleansing practices. Pattabhi Jois in his doctrines mentioned that defects in external practices can be corrected. However, the defects in internal cleansing practices, namely dharana, pratyahara and dhyana cannot be corrected and it can be seriously dangerous to one’s mind unless correct Ashtanga yoga techniques and methods are followed. Due to this reason, it was clearly emphasized by Pattabhi Jois that Ashtanga Yoga technique is actually Patanjali Yoga.

How Ashtanga Yoga Works

The whole practice of yoga is certainly associated with having control over one’s mind. In order to achieve this goal, one needs to achieve perfection with the steps yama and niyama. However, a practitioner can face immensely difficulty in working on the limbs as well as the sub-limbs of the steps yama and niyama in case the sense organs and the whole body in general are weak and severely limited by obstacles. Due to this reason, the person in question must first adopt daily asana practice as it can make the whole body healthy and strong. As the body and the sense organs become more stabilized, a practitioner can find it easier to have control over his or her steady mind. Once the practitioner has achieved steady control over the mind, he or she can work on exploring yama and niyama in greater detail. All Ashtanga yoga India centers focus on helping students to develop such an effective control over their minds.

Important features of Ashtanga yoga asanas and poses

Ashtanga yoga consists of many poses, asanas and sequences that can be used for strengthening the core of the body. These asanas can also help in toning the body and develop greater endurance. The perfect synchronicity of breathing and physical movement can create an internal heat within the body that can purify the body and mind. Most of these asanas are highly energetic and needs the guidance of a professional yoga master who is well versed about the various techniques of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Leading Ashtanga Yoga Mysore teachers recommend practicing the techniques of Ashtanga Yoga regularly, particularly for those who are looking to enhance their spiritual development.

How Ashtanga yoga classes work

An Ashtanga yoga class is mostly taught in the form of “Mysore style.” Practitioners are always encouraged by the teachers to memorize the specific sequence they are currently working on, after which they are asked to work through individually through the sequence in the class. A teacher provides instructions for adjusting and supporting the yoga practice instead of guiding the yoga practice of the individual. Therefore the students get to set their very own pace that is consistent with their basic ability. Practicing along with other students and getting encouragement from their teacher actually enhances the whole yoga experience. The students need to master each and every pose in a yoga sequence prior to moving on to another sequence.


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