Ashtanga Yoga is a physical and mental practice that consists of performing repetitive sequences of fast and intense movements (asanas) to develop greater body awareness and, in turn, improve posture in its practitioners, as well as increase strength, endurance, and flexibility of muscles and thoughts.
The practice of Ashtanga Yoga is revealed in the ancient Hindu book “Yoga Korunta” by Vamana Rishi where the influential Sri T. Krishnamacharya begins to practice the sequences of asanas described there, who, in turn, teach and disseminate the practice of yoga dynamic adding emblematic disciples that give beginning to the evolution of yoga, as were Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari and PattabhiJo is passionate practitioners who position yoga in the western world as a tool of life for the control and integral well-being of the body, mind, and spirit.
Another representative teacher in the practice of yoga is Patanjali creator of the eight yoga aphorisms or steps to live a meaningful life (also called yoga sutras) that are fundamental to realize a harmonious practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
8 Aphorisms Of Yoga:
- Yamas: Guidelines that teach the individual to be in tune with the world
- Ahimsa: Nonviolence
- Satya: Do not lie
- Asteya: Do not steal
- Brahmacarya: Sexual moderation
- Aparigraha: Material detachment
2. Niyamas: Principles that teach the individual how to be with himself.
- Saucha: Physical and mental purity
- Santosha: Contentment
- Tapas: Asceticism
- Svadhyaya: Metaphysical self-inquiry
- Pranidhana: Spirituality
3. Asanas: Cleaning and purification of body and mind through physical practice
4. Pranayama: Physical control
5. Pratyara: Emotional/mental control
6. Dharana: Concentration
7. Dhyana: Being totally present/meditation
8. Samadhi: The greatest state of consciousness
Main Approaches To Ashtanga Yoga Taught By Pattabhi Jois:
- Vinyasa: The flow of breathing and movement. Each movement must be done with one breath. For example, if it is standing it is a breath (inhalation), when bending forward it is another breath (exhalation), and so on, it is inhaled and exhaled in synchrony with the movements creating heat in the body internally and externally through the dynamic postures.
- Tristana: Focus (drishtis), breathing (pranayamas), and posture (asana):
- Focus: There are nine drishtis or places where attention should be focused while maintaining the different postures: nose, third eye, navel, thumb, hands, feet, upper part, right side and left side
- Breathing: In the practice of yoga, the control of the breath is of great importance, since abundant and controlled breathing can facilitate the realization and remain in the postures. There are the MahaBandhas, which are energy keys located strategically throughout the spinal column. When inhaling, the bandhas are contracted, and the positions are made with greater efficiency; when exhaling, they relax, and synchronized breathing and movements are experienced:
3. MulaBandha (root key): Located between the sexual organs and anus.
4. UddiyanaBandha (diaphragm key): Located in the solar plexus
5. JalandharaBandha (neck brace): Located at the base of the throat
The posture strengthens and purifies the body with the practice of the asanas.
The practice of ashtanga yoga also includes a strict series of asanas designed for practitioners whose objective is to deepen the practice while integrating the philosophy of yoga, breathing, mindfulness, and postures.