Ashtanga yoga is for everyone and anyone, it is designed for daily self practice and can be done anywhere. A few guided classes per week help you establish and maintain the form and flow of the practice. It is nice to practice with others every now and then because group atmosphere is sociable!
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois while he studied with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927. It is the teachings of Sri K Pattabhi Jois that are taught today in Ashtanga classes around the world.
The main components of Ashtanga Yoga.
Vinyasa: Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. For example, in the first sun salutation there are nine vinyasas. The first vinyasa is inhaling while raising your arms over your head, and putting your hands together; the second is exhaling while bending forward, placing your hands next to your feet, etc. In this way all asanas (postures) are assigned a certain number of vinyasas.
The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing. Breathing and moving together while performing asanas creates heat in the body, warming the blood so it circulates freely, removing body pain, improving circulation, moving through internal organs removing impurities.
After the body is purified, it is possible for the same cleansing process to happen with the nervous system, and then the sense organs and mind.
Vinyasa creates the foundation for this to occur.
Tristhana: This means the three places of attention or action: posture (Asana), breathing system (Ujjayi) and looking place (Dristhi). These three are very important for yoga practice, and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other.
Ashtanga is a sanskrit word meaning Eight limbs of yoga
Ashta = Eight
Anga = Limb
Yoga = Union