The Practice

Süryanamaskara A (9 Vinyasas, State 6)

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a form of hatha yoga that follows a set sequence of postures (“asanas”), joined together through the synchronisation of movement and breath (“vinyasas”). It is often referred to as a moving meditation, helping students to become stronger and more flexible, while simultaneously calming the mind.

As an energetic and dynamic practice, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga generates internal heat, which in turn helps the body to detoxify, improve circulation and become lighter.

“Ashtanga” is a Sanskrit term meaning “eight limbs”, which was used by the Indian sage Patanjali to systematise the eight limbs (steps or stages) of yoga in the Yoga Sutras written approximately 2,000 years ago.

But the Ashtanga Yoga system, as it is known and practiced today, was not popularised outside India until relatively recently, when foreign students began to attend classes held by Sri K Pattahbi Jois (1915-2009) in the South Indian city of Mysore. Today, his grandson Sharath Rangaswamy and daughter Saraswathi Rangaswany, continue to teach in the same tradition at the K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore (KPJAYI).

Sharath Rangaswamy and his grandfather Sri K Pattahbi Jois

Then, as continues to be the case today, students were taught individually within a group setting. In Mysore style classes students do their own practice at their own pace, receiving personalised instructions and adjustments from the teacher. Mysore style classes encourage students to develop an internal focus, rather than concentrating on the external voice of a teacher.

Students are not required to start at any particular time, but are welcome to roll out their mats within the times we are open. Once a student has remembered and accomplished a particular posture, the teacher guides them through the next. The sequential order of postures is followed with each posture being a preparation for the next. By mastering a posture students develop the strength and balance required to move further.

This style of teaching enables students to work at their own pace and to develop their own yoga self-practice without being dependent on a teacher. This means you can practice it just about anywhere — at home, on holiday or even work.

“Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha” (“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”), Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.2

Yoga is “99% practice, 1% theory”, Sri K Pattahbi Jois