Ashtanga (vinyasa) yoga
Hatha yoga in its oldest and most effective form.
Containing aṣṭau (Sanskrit: the number “8”) aṅga (Sanskrit: “step”) and yoga (Sanskrit: “span”, “to yoke”, “to stretch”, “to harness”), the term aṣṭāṅgayoga refers to an eight-step practice: a philosophical doctrine teaching an intuitive way of perceiving the world. It comprises physical and mental exercise techniques. Using these techniques, we are able to allow a centred spirit to reside in a strong and healthy body.
Meditation is produced in movement by performing dynamic and powerful body positions (āsana-s) in combination with an even, audible breathing technique (ujjayī), energetic muscle contractions in the stomach and pelvic region (bandha-s) and pre-determined focal points for the eyes (dṛṣṭi).
Stress reduction and health-promoting prevention:
- Adjustment of physical malpositioning produced in everyday life and unfavourable physical stress, promotion of internal awareness
- Correct orientation of the joints: maximisation of body awareness
- Strengthening of muscles, joints and tendons in their optimal function
- Equal training of flexibility, strength and elongation
- Increase in breathing capacity
- Improved concentration and mental relaxation using meditation techniques
- Focusing of the mind, maximisation of energy level
Regular practice influences the body just as positively as the mind.
Ashtanga Yoga has several exercises that build on from each other and are configured precisely in sequence: step by step, the instructor guides each student individually through the exercise, complementing the lesson by explaining the philosophy, breathing techniques as well as concentration and meditation techniques to realise the full potential of this holistic practice.
Step by step
It is suitable for people of all fitness levels. The idea that it is only intended for very flexible and young people is a Western misinterpretation, whereby it is often taught too quickly and too intensively nowadays. The practice is actually intended to be structured in a slow and steady way for each individual; this is the only way in which it can be beneficial to the health.
About the history
The practice of Ashtanga Yoga is probably thousands of years old. Traditionally, it would have been passed down to the next generation by word of mouth. A single script thought to be lost – written on decayed palm leaves – containing the oral tradition seems, however, to have once existed: the “Yoga Korunta”. This was the sole document in which a precise arrangement of āsanas and detailed explanations of vinyāsas (breath-synchronous movements) were listed and where the philosophical relationship between the yoga sūtrāṇi of Mahaṛṣi Patañjali was explained. Believed to have been written in the 17th century by scholar ṛṣi Vamana, it was rediscovered in the library of Calcutta by scholar T. Kṛṣṇamācārya (1888-1989) at the start of the last century. For around 25 years, Sri K. Patthabi Jois (1915-2009) was the direct student of T. Kṛṣṇamācārya and is considered to be the main proponent of these teachings, which even today are traditionally taught in “kpjayri” Mysore, India.