Ashtanga Yoga is an effective system to grow the physical, mental and spiritual level, which enables us to achieve more strength and flexibility. The system of Ashtanga Yoga was founded by Sri K. Patthabi Jois and passed on to him by his teacher T. Krishnamacharya. We at Ashtanga Yoga Heidelberg teaches the method ground up. A student easily get used to of the system and gradually learn the asana by heart.
Ashtanga Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga Heidelberg
Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga recorded by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript “said to contain lists of many different groupings of asanas, as well as highly original teachings on vinyasa, Drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosophy” (Jois 2002 xv). The text of the Yoga Korunta “was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Since 1948, Pattabhi Jois has been teaching Ashtanga yoga from his yoga shala, the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (Jois 2002 xvi), according to the sacred tradition of Guru Parampara [disciplic succession] (Jois 2003 12). We are keeping the tradition to share Ashtanga Yoga in its original form, where students learn it ground up.
Ashtanga yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga,” as outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali, the path of internal purification for revealing the Universal Self consists of the following eight spiritual practices.
Modern history of Ashtanga Yoga
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga codified and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century which is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, of which asana or physical yoga posture is merely one branch, breath or pranayama is another. Both Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, his grandson, encourage the practice of Ashtanga Yoga – all eight limbs. The first two limbs – Yamas and Niyamas – are given special emphasis to be practised in conjunction with the 3rd and 4th limbs (asana and pranayama).
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for “eight-limbed”) Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Sri K. Pattabhi and Manju P. Jois (his eldest son and student) brought this form of Yoga to the American West Coast in 1975. In the past 35 years, Ashtanga Yoga spread worldwide and found more and more enthusiastic students. Sri K. Pathabbi Jois was teaching in Mysore, India and on several world tours until his death in May 2009.
The Ashtanga Yoga system consists of three sequences or series. The “Primary Series” (Yoga Chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body. The “Intermediate Series” (Nadi Shodana) purifies the nervous system by means of opening and releasing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D (Shtira Baga) integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher physical levels of flexibility and strength. The breath is continuously and deep during the whole practice. Even breathing cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga Yoga system. When breath feeds into action, and action improves posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise, and perfectly steady.
Vinyasa is the synchronization between movement and breathing. Drishti is the focus point. Bandhas are energetic locks within the body. This muscular work will help to regulate the flow of prana.
Practising the sequences in the correct order with the help of vinyasa, breathing and using the bandhas results in the production of intensive internal warmth. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals. Ashtanga Yoga is quite a demanding practice. Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspects of this Yoga tradition. This seems contrary to Western thinking about yoga. The result of this practice is a strong, flexible and relaxed body and a clear mind. Ashtanga Yoga gradually leads the practitioner to rediscover and realize his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness – physical, psychological and spiritual. By means of this practice, we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of ourselves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.
“If we practice the science of yoga, which is useful to the entire human community and which yields happiness both here and hereafter – if we practice it without fail, we will then attain physical, mental and spiritual happiness, and our minds will flood towards the Self.” Sri K. Patthabi Jois
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a comprehensive system of yoga taught for 65 years by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, South India until departure from life at the age of 93 in 2009.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is designed to purify the body and still the mind. The practice is characterized by Vinyasa, the precise coordination of movement with (ujjayi) deep-breathing, (drīstī) eye-sight and (bandha).
Today, the Ashtanga system of yoga is preserved and transmitted by Saraswathi and Sharath Jois at Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI), Mysore and Manju Jois in the USA. The rich tradition of Ashtanga Yoga created much well-acknowledged Ashtanga masters/ teachers and mentors from all over the world and India.
Thanks to the Ashtanga community for tireless efforts, Ashtanga is practised by people the world with love and gratitude.
The inspiring wisdom of the Teacher, that motivate us and make us smile 🙂
“Anyone can practice. The young can practice. The old can practice. Very old can practice. A sick person can practice, a person who does not have strength can practice. Except for lazy people, lazy people can not practice Ashtanga Yoga” – Shri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009)
“Do your practice and all is coming”
“Body not stiff, mind stiff”
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% Theory” – Shri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009)
Featured Image: Shala in Mysore – Photo from Philippa Asher (http://ashtangaphilippa.com)