Ashtanga Yoga Lineage
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a sequence of yoga asana popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century.
Pattabhi Jois began practicing with Krishnamacharya starting in 1927 when he was just 12 years old. In 1937, he began a position as yoga teacher at the Sanskrit College in Mysore, India. K. Pattabhi Jois continued to teach at the Mysore Sanskrit College until retirement in 1973. He taught yoga for 70 years! Ashtanga Yoga is continued & honored by his son Manju Pattabhi Jois, his daughter Saraswati Jois, his grandson Sharath Jois & every Ashtanga teacher & practitioner today.
There are three groups of movement sequences & six series in total in Ashtanga Yoga:
The Primary Series, called Yoga Chikitsa (yoga therapy) - cleanses the physical body.
The Intermediate Series, called Nadi Shodhana (nerve cleansing) - purifies the nervous system, opening up experiencing the subtleties of our energy & mind.
The Advanced Series A, B, C & D, called Sthira Bhaga (strength & grace) - explores more deeply flexibility, vigor & tranquility, & requires higher levels of humility & dedication.
Each series of postures must be accomplished before proceeding to the next. The practice is cumulative & it is essential to follow the order of postures (asanas) as each individual asana builds on the previous one & prepares practitioners for the next. Each asana, or group of asanas, has a specific effect that is counter balanced by the previous asana, or group of asanas. The sequential process of learning Ashtanga Yoga allows its practitioners to develop the concentration, strength, flexibility & stamina needed to progress in a safe & balanced manner. It also allows the practitioner to cultivate a deeper understanding of their body, their mind, & their samskaras on & off the mat.
Tristhana - This is the threefold approach to yoga asana. Pranayama, Dristhi, & Bandhas.
Ujjayi Pranayama - This translates to, "Victorious Breath." Pranayama is the method of gaining control over the subtle energies in the body by using the breath. Guruji says: “Ashtanga practice is a breathing practice, the rest is just bending”.
Dristhi - Your dristhi is your point of focus. This is what guides you attention externally so that you can more easily turn your attention inwards to the more subtle aspects of the practice.
Bandhas - Known as, "locks," or "seals," bandhas are internal energetic centers contained in the sublte body that help regulate pranic (life force energy) flow.
Vinyasa - In this sequence of asana, you link your breath to each movement which marries our internal & external worlds. It invites harmony to your practice.
Mantra - At the beginning & end of every Ashtanga/Mysore class, you will chant an opening & closing mantra. They are a means to give thanks to our teachers, our teacher's teachers & all the teachers who came before them for carrying this wisdom to us. Ashtanga yoga practice offers deep insight & clarity into our lives, these mantras allow us to center & open ourselves up to our highest potential today.
Mysore - This is a traditional form of Ashtanga practice in which student unroll their mat, begin their practice & self pace. The teacher generally stands at the front of the room observing, offering corrections & adjustments as needed. This type of self practice allows the practitioner to fully integrate with their own breath & establishes a deeper connection to their own personal practice. Ashtanga yoga popularized by Pattabhi Jois began in Mysore, India. Thus, it is called Mysore!