Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Sri K. Patthabi Jois (1915 – 2009) developed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the 1930ies in Mysore, India, in the tradition of his teacher Sri T. Krishnamacharya (1888 - 1989). Nowadays, his grandson, R. Sharath Jois directs the Sri K. Patthabi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic form of Hatha Yoga. Positions of the body (in Sanskrit: asana) are precisely coordinated with breathing in a predefined sequence.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a physically demanding practice, which, done regularly, develops strength, flexibility, endurance and balancing skills.
In yoga, one assumes that the life force (in Sanskrit: prana) is distributed throughout the body via small energy channels (in Sanskrit: nadi). Restrictions to this free flow of prana result in physical, emotional and also mental disturbances.
Through a special breathing technique (free breathing with sound), the interplay of the movements with the engaging of certain muscular and energetic centers (in Sanskrit: bandha) creates inner heat. This heat supports the purification and opening of the physical body and small energy channels. As a result, more vitality is available. Healing can occur on all levels.
In addition, each asana has a specific focal point (in Sanskrit: drishti). After several years of practice, the use of the drishti in combination with the special breathing technique helps you achieve a meditative state – the yoga practice becomes a moving meditation.
As the sequence of the postures in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is fixed, students can do the practice also at home, independent of a teacher. The role of the teacher is to introduce the correct technique for each individual posture. The teacher can also help achieve a deeper level within the postures, by using physical adjustments.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is characterized by
- the defined sequence of the asana
- the dynamic flow between asanas
- the special breathing technique
- the combination of movement, breathing and focal point (in Sanskrit: Trishtana)
- the use of bandhas
- the parallel development of flexibility and strength
- the possibility of active support by the teacher in form of physical adjustments
- the autonomy of the practice, independent of a teacher.
In the beginning, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga should ideally be practiced two to three times per week. Over time, practice should, if possible, become a daily routine, with one rest day per week (traditionally on Saturday) and an additional rest day on full and new moon days.
While Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is physically demanding, it is suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities.
"Ashtanga Yoga is for everybody, just not for lazy people. " (Sri K. Patthabi Jois)
On the meaning of ”Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga”:
Ashtanga describes a system, consisting of eight elements (in Sanskrit, the word Ashtanga is a combination of "ashtao", meaning "eight", and "anga", meaning "limb"):
- Yama (= ethical behavior)
- Niyama (= rules for personal behavior)
- Asana (= postures)
- Pranayama (= breathing techniques)
- Pratyahara (= withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (= concentration)
- Dhyana (= meditation)
- Samadhi (= state of higher awareness)
These elements are closely linked to each other. The practitioner of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga can develop all the above mentioned elements, over time.
„Practice, practice, practice - and all will be coming.” Sri K. Patthabi Jois
Vinyasa refers to the interplay between the movement and your breathing.
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word for “yoke” and in a wider sense "union" or "integration". Originally, yoga was a spiritual path, with enlightenment as the ultimate goal. With this intention, yoga has been practiced for over 2,500 years. The (sometimes exclusive) emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga (asana) is a development of the 20th century.