What is Ashtanga?


The word “Ashtanga” means “eight limbs.” This term appears in Pattanjali’s “Yoga Sutras,” and Pattanjali’s “Ashtanga Yoga” is an eight limbed path towards liberation, or enlightenment. 

 
The physical practice of Ashtanga Yoga was popularized by Pattabhi Jois, of Mysore, India in the late 1960s – early 1970s, when he began teaching Western students at his home. Jois learned the Ashtanga Yoga method from his teacher, Krishnamacharya. This transmission of yogic teaching from teacher to student is known as parampara. The student/teacher connection is sacred and continues to be valued within the Ashtanga Yoga method today. Pattabhi Jois passed away in 2005, at which point his grandson, Sharath Jois, became the paramaguru within the Ashtanga Yoga lineage. Sharath continues to teach at his yoga center in Mysore.
 
The physical practice of Ashtanga Yoga is learned “Mysore style,” which is a self-practice format within a group setting. This method allows for each student to work at an individual pace and addresses their individual needs, while enjoying the communal energy. The teacher is present to give personalized instruction and adjustments. Each student learns a series of postures, one at a time, as a progression (krama). This method of learning assures that each student learns the series safely. There are six series in the Ashtanga Yoga system. Ashtanga Yoga implements the Trishthana Method, which is the combination of breath, postures (asanas), and gazing points (dristhis) to create a moving meditation. This is truly a style of yoga that is appropriate for all levels of yoga practitioner.