Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has it roots in Yoga Korunta, an ancient script written in Sanskrit. The ‘father’ of modern Yoga, Sri T. Krishnamacharya supposedly used this script as an inspiration for his teaching, passing on its knowledge to his students. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who was tutored for many years next to Sri T. Krishnamacharya, gave, around 1937, a more concrete shape to the teachings of his tutor, creating this wonderful method of exercising body, mind and spirit, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
It is a form of dynamic yoga with 8 principles (or, as Ashtanga literally means, 8 limbs). Those limbs are:
The practice of Ashtanga starts with the positions (asanas). During practice, a certain sequence of positions is executed along with deep, even breaths and focus of the eyes on certain points. Every movement or position is combined with an inhalation or an exhalation. The combination of the above with a nice flow in the environment of a Mysore class (individualized teaching within a group setting) gradually has the following results: Every body muscle gets exercise, the bone position is rearranged, the brain and the cells get more oxygen, blood circulation is boosted. This way, we gradually obtain strength, flexibility, endurance and a better posture.
Although asanas/positions have the purpose of preparing us for the other limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, practicing on them can have a deeper effect only when they are taught by an experienced teacher. With systematic practice under the instructions of an experienced teacher, the benefits of Ashtanga Yoga manifest also on a psychological and mental level. A fully conscious, holistic approach to this method can lead to well-being, calmness, mental clarity, a better health and a generally better quality of life.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) was the founder of Ashtanga Yoga method. The teaching in his school is continued by lineage holder R. Sharath Jois and his daughter Saraswathi.