What is Ashtanga Vinyasa?
Ashtanga Vinyasa is a dynamic yoga practice that is characterized by perfect synchrony of breathing and movement (vinyasa). It was introduced by one of the most famous modern yoga teachers – Krishna Pattabhi Jois, around the middle of the 20th century. Ashtanga Vinyasa follows a certain sequence of movements, which are accompanied by specific breathing with sound, activation of specific energy centers (bandha) and concentration at certain points (drishti). Through regular practice, a yogi develops discipline, self-control, awareness and stability of body and mind.
In Ashtanga Vinyasa the asanas follow a specific order and are grouped in series:
- The first series is called “Yoga Chikitsa” (yoga therapy) – it helps the body to restructure at the musculoskeletal level and to detoxify deeply;
- The second series is called “Nadi Shodhana” (purification of nadis) – it purifies the nervous system and opens the energy channels in the body;
- The third is Sthira Bhaga (Divine Stability) – it helps to generate strength, stability, balance and flexibility.
Asanas must be performed consistently, because each pose is a kind of preparation for the next. In order to move on to the next series, the practitioner must have mastered the previous one perfectly.
How is it practiced?
Ashtanga Vinyasa can be practiced both individually and in a group. There are two main methods in practice: one is called “Mysore style” and the other “Guided class”. In “Mysore Style” everyone practices independently, at their own pace, following their own rhythm, and the teacher silently walks around the shala, assists and gives guidance. In “Mysore style” the teacher corrects the student and gives individual instructions on how to perform the asanas and when to finish, and the student must gradually memorize the sequence of movements. This type of practice is very suitable for both beginners and advanced practitioners, as it allows for an individual approach to the student and gradual progress according to the person.
In the Guided Class, everyone in the room performs the asanas together, and the teacher conducts, saying the names of the asanas and counting the vinyasas in Sanskrit. One of the goals of the “Guided” class is for students to be able to learn the correct sequence of movements and breathing (vinyasi).
Strength, endurance and flexibility are characteristic aspects of Ashtanga Vinyasa. This practice is dynamic, as the asanas are performed one after the other without a break. At the same time, every movement is performed correctly and in a very controlled way, which leads to the accumulation of a lot of inner strength, warmth and vital energy. In this way the body is strengthened, the nervous system is purified and the mind is balanced. Ashtanga Vinyasa helps to cultivate will, determination and discipline, as this style is traditionally practiced 6 days a week, and in the beginning you can start with less practice.
If you want to learn more about Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, you can join some of our classes at Taruna Yoga Shala in Sofia. (