Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga preserved and passed down by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) of Mysore, India. The practice combines breath and movement, which is believed to be the link between the physical and spiritual aspects, and allows the practitioner to achieve deeper meditation and greater mental clarity. In this practice, over time, one develops core strength and flexibility, while enhanced circulation aids in reducing stress and increasing endurance. Additionally, the twisting and squeezing of each asana (yoga posture) helps to massage internal organs which aids in the elimination of toxins, among other wonderful benefits.
Ashtanga consists of three series: primary, intermediate, and advanced, with further divisions in the advanced series. The Primary series is what I’ll be sharing with you here and it consists of about 75 asanas (yoga postures). It begins with surya namaskara A and B (sun salutations A and B) to heat and warm up the body. Next there are a series of standing asanas, followed by sitting asanas, inversions, a back bend, headstand, and finally a seated meditation. The order in which these postures are performed is very important as each asana prepares the body for the next, allowing for deeper stretching, physical strength and mental focus. The result of continued practice is improved circulation, a light and strong body with even muscle tone, and a calm and peaceful mind.
Is Ashtanga Right for Me?
Ashtanga yoga can be a vigorous, athletic, and intense form of yoga. It will appeal to those who are looking for a physical challenge and for people who like a sense of order. Ashtanga can also be modified for those with less stamina or just getting back into physical activity. Although it may seem intimidating and difficult at first, with practice and patience you will begin to find a deeper connection with your body and your true Self will spill out into all other areas of your life.
“Do your practice and all is coming.” [-Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois]