What is Ashtanga Yoga?
PHILOSOPHY BEHIND ASHTANGA YOGA
Ashtanga yoga is a practice and philosophy that develops one’s psychological and spiritual health. It has been kept alive for thousands of years from one generation to the next by being passed on through a lineage of teachers. It has not endured by staying fixed in the past, rather it is a living tradition that has maintained its integrity
while adjusting to people’s needs and the demands of the time. Ashtanga yoga is not bound to one particular religion, political lineage or any other association. What this tradition does is connect us to the life-force that flows through all beings, and remains grounded in a deep sense of respect for the teachers and the practice itself.
The practice of Ashtanga Yoga (Ashtanga/Vinyasa Yoga) as established by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India is a system that consists of a precise sequence of poses (asana), breath control (ujjayi pranayama), a gazing point (drishti), and internal energetic locks (bandhas). Each pose in the sequence is a preparation for the next, and is traditionally practiced in sequence.
The combination of breath, movement, and focused awareness begins to generate heat (tapas). This heat purifies the senses of perception, (indriyas), and consequently, we begin to be more discriminating in how we feed our senses.
According to Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga yoga is a path that leads us to our own spirit, to our very nature.
There are two traditional ways in which Ashtanga is taught: in a led class, where the vinyasa system is counted out loud, or in a Mysore-style class, with everyone going through the asana series individually, at his or her own pace, under the supervision of the teacher.
Yoga is above all experiential. It is your own experience that will always be your truest and best teacher.
As Pattabhi Jois was fond of saying “99% practice, 1% theory. Do your practice. All is coming!”