I love leaving a yoga class feeling full; of strength, vitality and confidence and not empty and exhausted. Ashtanga yoga is my ticket to that place.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ᾱshtanga Yoga is an authentic, systematic yoga practice introduced by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1948. Jois was the director and founder of the Ᾱshtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India until his death in the 2009 at the age of 93. His daughter Saraswati Jois now runs the Institute.
The basis of this practice came from the Yoga Korunta (book about yoga), an ancient text which was transmitted by oral tradition to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya by his teacher Ramamohana Brahmachari in the early 20th century, and further to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois beginning in 1927.
The word Ᾱshtanga means 8 limbs and refers to the 8 limbs of yoga established by Patanjali, describing the eight aspects of yoga as limbs of a tree. Patanjali’s analogy is the perfect image. Wisdom and spiritually unfold in the same manner as a tree grows. Nature is steady and gradual.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Samadhi-A state of joy and peace
Through regular practice, the eight limbs are nourished. Personal insights begin to manifest. We become aware of what we put in our bodies and how we interact with the work around us. From this type on introspection, the qualities of The Yamas and Niyamas begin to develop. Ᾱsana and Pranayama grow when focused awareness of the breath is applied while practicing each posture.
As we keep the mind fixed on the sound and quality of our breath, the senses are encouraged to turn inward and the element of Pratyahara manifests. As we improve our abilities of controlling the senses from wandering during practice, the subtle quality of concentration deepens in the form of Dharana. In time, the practice moves further internally and refinement of concentration develops as our ability to remain present is enhanced. The practice then grows into a deep resounding meditation experience known as Dhyana. At this stage, we are creating greater potential to explore the finest realms of yoga known as Samadhi, in which we realize the pure essence of all that exists.
So what is an Ashtanga yoga class like?
Because it is an authentic yoga style, class is taught at room temperature without music allowing for little distraction. Without distraction, one can concentrate and be drawn inward promoting self-manifestation.
The class begins with the vinyasa (flowing) of Sun Salutation A and B. Then comes the Standing Series which includes postures such as Triangles, Side Angle, Pyramid, Warrior I and II, to just name a few, or the Primary Series which includes seated and supine postures as well as twists. Great attention is given to the alignment of each posture in order to let prāna (life-force) manifest the changes listed above.
“I have been trained and certified in many styles of yoga, but personally, I love to practice and teach Ᾱshtanga Yoga because it is physically strengthening, mentally empowering, and emotionally nourishing. I feel balanced and full of energy at the end of a practice and notice my students experience that as well. Ᾱshtanga Yoga is a nurturing, safe, and beautiful practice.”