Named after the eight-limbs of yoga described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, Ashtanga Yoga is a method of practicing yoga postures and pranayama as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore India.
The Roots of Ashtanga Yoga
Sri K. Patthabhi Jois was born in 1915 on the Full Moon of July. Guruji, as he was called by Ashtanga students, passed away on May 18, 2009. Guruji taught six days a week in Mysore, India with his daughter Saraswati and grandson Sharath Rangaswami.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’s guru was Sri Tirumali Krishnamacharya, one of the most influential Yoga teachers of the 20th century. Krishnamacharya’s guru was Rama Mohan Brahmachari of Tibet.
Classes and practice ranges from one and a half hours for beginners to almost three hours for intermediate and advanced students. Traditionally, students practice six days a week, Sunday through Friday. Students and practitioners also take additional rest days on Moon Days (Full and New Moon).
How is Ashtanga Yoga different?
In Ashtanga Yoga, asana are practiced in a specific, predetermined order. An Ashtanga student moves from asana to asana in a choreographed sequence of movement and breath called vinyasa.
The postures in this method of yoga are taught in progressively more difficult groups that continually challenge the mind and body. Teachers work very closely with students, giving verbal instructions and coaxing students through difficult postures with hands-on assistance when needed.