Students practice a set series of poses each time, gradually improving through the series. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga emphasizes the linking of movement and breathing (vinyasa), Ujjayi breathing, and bandhas (energy locks).
Ashtanga Yoga is a method of yoga said to be originated from an ancient manuscript called the Yoga Korunta. The lines of the Yoga Korunta were imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya nearby the 1900s who then explained it to his student Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Jois then used this as the base for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which he began teaching in 1948.
Philosophy & Principles
The first limb, Yama, deals with one's moral values and sense of integrity, concentrating on our way and how we carry ourselves in life.
Niyama, the second limb, has to begin with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly visiting temple or church services, saying grace before meals, growing your meditation practices, or creating a manner of taking meditative walks alone are all parts of niyamas in practice.
Praṇayama is the control of the breath, from the Sanskrit prāṇa (प्राण, breath) and āyāma (आयाम, restraint). The practice of consciously controlling the breath (inhalation, the full pause, exhalation, and the empty pause). When we work on releasing the breath through pranayama, we are also operating on engaging the life force flow through the body. It produces the effect of energizing, relaxing, and rejuvenating the body, letting everything fall into place. It truly enhances and balances the life energy in your system.
Pratyāhāra is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- ("against") and āhāra ("bring near"). Pratyahara is moving within one's consciousness. It is a process of removing the sensory involvement from outer objects. Pratyahara allows one to stop being dominated by the outer world, bring one's awareness to explore self-knowledge.
Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा) means concentration, inner-directed focus of mind. The root of the word is dhṛ meaning "to hold, maintain, keep". Dharana, is holding one's mind onto a particular internal state, subject or point of one's mind. The mind is set on a mantra, or one's breathing/navel/any place. Fixing the mind means inner-directed focus, without floating of thought, and without shifting from one point to another.
Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has concentrated on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a particular deity, Dhyana is its purpose. If the focus was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental observation of that object. Dhyana is unbroken chain of thought, flow of insight, flow of consciousness.
Patanjali describes this eighth and ultimate grade of ashtanga, samadhi, as a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator unites with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether. The meditator comes to actualize a deep relationship to the Divine, interconnectedness with all existing elements.