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Ashtanga Yoga is a powerfull and dynamic form of Hatha Yoga. In this practise we follow the vinyasa system, which means that each movement is initiated with a certain breath. The asansas follow each other in a set order and with a set counting of vinyasas.
The combination of movement and breathing heats the body so that the blood can circulate freely and so helps to remove blockages and impurities. First the purification is on the bodily level, later working on the cleansing of the nervous system and sense organs. This needs long term dedication to the practise.
The breathing should be performed with mula and uddiyana bandha. These are the anal and lower abdominal locks which, by sealing the energy, give lightness yet strenght to the body and control the mind.
The combination of keeping the attention in the posture, breath and in a looking point is called Trishtana. These three aspects together cover the purification of body, nervous system and mind. They should allways be performed in conjunction with each other.
In Sanskrit ”Ashta” means eight and ”Anga” means limbs. So Ashtanga means the Eight Limb path. This we can trace back in Patanjali´s Yoga Sutras where he describes the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.In short these eight limbs are:
1. Yama, meaning the moral codes
2. Niyama, meaning the personal disciplines
3. Asana, meaning Yoga postures
4. Pranayama, meaning the extension or controll of the breath
5. Pratyahara, meaning the withdrawal of the senses
6. Dharana, meaning concentration
7. Dhyana, meaning meditation
8. Samadhi, meaning salvation or enlightenment.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is the founder of todays Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He was
born in 1915, and taught yoga in Mysore for over fifty years.
Pattabhi Jois studied with his teacher Sri Trimulai Krishnamacharya who is
also consideredto be the grandfather of modern yoga. Under the guidance of
Krishnamacharya he devised six asana sequences based on the information
contained in an ancient text known as ”Yoga Korunta”.
Today Patthabhi´s grandson, Sharath Rangaswami, is continuing the work of
his Grandfather as the director of the K.Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institut
in Mysore, India.