Ashtanga is Sanskrit for "having eight parts," referring to the eight-limbs or the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Origin + Founder:
Ashtanga Yoga is considered the modern-day form of classical Indian yoga and was popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois, who began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12. By 1948, he had established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute for teaching the Ashtanga Yoga practice.
It has its roots in the ancient Yoga Korunta, written by Vamana Rishi, which was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Later, it was passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.
Today, Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional method of practice in which students practice at their individual pace while being supervised and adjusted by the teacher. According to Green Path Yoga, new postures are taught sequentially to the student as individual strength, proficiency, commitment and humility evolve.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a yoga practice where breath is united with movement and attention to create a meditative and purifying style of yoga. It's said tahat practiced for a long and continuous duration, physical and mental afflictions dissolve, vibrant health and Self-awareness arise.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the source of most all vinyasa, power and flow style yogas that are popular in the West today, which essentially is most styles of yoga in the West.
Jois' grandson Sharath says "Without bandhas, breathing will not be correct, and the asanas will give no benefit."
Central bandhas to the Ashtanga practice are:
Typically an Ashtanga practice begins with five Surya Namaskar A and 5 B, followed by a standing sequence. Following this the practitioner begins one of six series, followed by the closing sequence.
The six series are:
Ashtanga Yoga is much more rigid in structure and tradition than vinyasa yoga, requiring a specific structure.
Ashtanga Yoga typically begins with this mantra:
I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
The awakening happiness of one's ownself revealed,
Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads white,
To Patanjali, I salute.
Ashtanga Yoga typically ends with this mantra:
May prosperity be glorified,
may rulers (administrators) rule the world with law and justice,
may divinity and erudition be protected.
May all beings be happy and prosperous.
Photo Cred: India.In