Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
“The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga series, is a system of Yoga, that is said to have its origin in an ancient text called the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru/teacher- Rama Mohan Brahmachari, which was later passed down to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927. This method of yoga is characterized by a focus on vinyasa. Vinyasas are the linking of breath with movement. An individual’s breath initiates and controls their movements and the length of time held in their postures. This process produces an intense internal heat and a purifying sweat. The Ashtanga Vinyasa system is an exact science; with a specific breath count for each asana and movement. And when practiced with a progressive series postures in sequential order allows a person to tap into unknown possibilities and uncover hidden potential. This is an ongoing, cumulative and a therapeutic process, further allowing a person to evolve to their fullest potential on a physical, psychological and spiritual level. The sophistication and simplicity of this type of yoga is that everyone breathes. From an ongoing practice and over time, a person learns to control their breath. When one can control their breath, they can, in turn control their practice. By focusing on the breath, an intention is created. This can help facilitate an awareness of actions in postures, freeing the body, allowing each movement, asana, to be, strong, stable and always evolving.”
The Eight Limbs/Steps of Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga can be described as a practice, a magnificent science, dedicated to creating union with body, mind and spirit. It supports the practitioner by using the breath and body to cultivate and foster a new level of awareness of themselves and an intimate connection to all: creating a balance so as to live in peace, good health and harmony with the greater whole. There are eight “steps” or “limbs” of Ashtanga Yoga and they are:
Yama: The Yamas can be thought of as the ethical standards or restraints, universal morality or integrity that is necessary for achieving harmony with other beings.
Niyama: The Niyamas can be described as actions that are necessary for achieving balance, self discipline or personal obervances with one self.
Asana: Postures/asanas/poses, that are practiced.
Pranayama: Pranayama is the practice of breath control, through breathing exercises. This is a fundemental aspect of the Ashtanga Yoga system.
Pratyahara: Control of the senses. Our attention is directed internally.
Dharana: Concentration of the mind and cultivating inner awareness. This stage has been described as where the “real yoga” happens.
Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation or Contemplation. It can be described as a stream of consciousness whereby very little of the “Self” exists.
Samadhi: Is the eighth limb of Ashtanga Yoga where, Peace, Union, Joy, Freedom unite. Sometimes referred to as Nirvana.