Аштанга Йога Шала
Ashtanga Yoga Shala

Ashtanga yoga

Yoga is not necessary to adapt to the weakness and imperfection of the practitioner, but on the contrary, the practitioner must develop itself to match the ideals of tradition.»

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established an institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for «eight-limbed») Yoga.

This style of yoga is characterized by a focus on vinyasa, or a dynamic connecting posture, that creates a flow between the more static traditional yoga postures. Vinyasa translates as linking and the system also implies the linking of the movement to the breath. Essentially the breath dictates the movement and the length of time held in the postures. The vinyasa 'flow' is a variant of Surya namaskara, the Sun Salutation. The whole practice is defined by six specific series of postures, always done in the same order, combined with specific breathing patterns (Free breathing with the ujjayi sound).

A standard vinyasa consists (for example) of the flow from caturanga, or plank, to caturanga danasana, or low plank, to urdhva mukha svanasana or upward-facing dog, to Adho Mukha Svanasana, or downward-facing dog. The purpose of vinyasa is to create heat in the body, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating. Ashtanga Vinyasa brings in the principles of Agni and inversion to purify the entire body. It also improves flexibility, as well as tendon and hard tissue strength, allowing the student to practice advanced asanas with reduced risk of injury.

There are six series altogether. Each sequence typically begins with 10 Sun Salutations and the standing poses. This is referred to as the «opening sequence». The student then moves to either the Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, B, C, or D, depending on his or her skill level, a back-bending sequence, finally closing with a set of inverted postures, referred to as the «finishing sequence». Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in Mysore style (supervised self practice), where each student moves through the practice at his or her own pace and level. In the West, it is more common to find classes devoted to a specific series, often at a standardized pace, and guided by an instructor.