Ashtanga yoga is often characterised as being a sporty, physical and dynamic form of yoga. This is certainly true, when considering the demands of the impressive asana sequence and the powerful impacts that the asanas have on the overall health and wellbeing of the physical body. There is, however, much more to ashtanga yoga than becoming physically strong and supple. When yoga asanas are linked to conscious breathing, directing the gaze and focusing the mind, the practice not only improves body control but enhances management of the senses and expands self-awareness. According to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, ashtanga yoga is a path that leads the practitioner to "the spirit within", ie one's true nature.
Ashtanga literally means eight limbs, which were defined in the form of aphorisms by the ancient sage Rishi Patanjali in his work called the Yoga Sutras some 2000 years ago. His writings are based on even older scripts called the vedas as well as on knowledge handed down through oral history, when teachings were transmitted from guru to student through the spoken word.
Ashtanga yoga is an amalgamation of many yoga styles. This form of yoga is 99% practice, consisting of the practice of the various postures and breathing techniques and the application of certain beneficial attitudes and approaches to life. The theory of yoga that can be gleaned from the study of ancient sacred books is only a fraction of the yoga practice itself. Books can only show us the path of yoga. Regular practice is the only way to free the body and mind from blockages, to activate one's physical, mental and spiritual resources and to achieve inner peace and happiness.
Fundamentally, yoga practice is based on breathing; on >prana or clean air cleansing and revitalising the body and mind. Application of the vinyasa technique to link together breathing and asanas, coupled with engaging the muscular locks (mula bandha and uddiyana bandha), heats up the body thoroughly, thereby allowing sensible and safe stretching of the muscles. Body heat and perspiration induce an exhaustive cleansing process, involving inner organs, muscles and nerves as well as the senses, brain and mind.
"Do your practice and all is coming." - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Effects and benefits
Makes the muscles firm and supple, reduces unneccessary fat and gives a light and energetic feeling.
Purifies the body by removing toxins that have been accumulated due to an unhealthy life style, and brings back lost life energy to the body.
Keeps the body and the mind youthful, healthy and vital.
Is an effective form of excercise combined with other sports and leisure activities.
Reduces the risk of pulled muscles and injuries.
Improves the immune system and the metabolism..
Improves the breathing and your awareness of the breath.