Ashtanga Yoga is a method of yoga said to be originated from an ancient manuscript called the Yoga Korunta, written by the sage Vâmana Ṛşi. The lines of the Yoga Korunta were imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya nearby the 1900s who then explained it to his student Sri K. PattabhiJois. Jois then used this as the base for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which he began teaching in 1948.
In the beginning, yoga classes with Krishnamacharya had only little structure. Even though, from 1931 onwards, Krishnamacharya on a permanent basis served as a professor for Sanskrit and philosophy at the College of the Maharadja at Mysore, he still traveled a lot to make yoga more prominent. Pattabhi used these opportunities and accompanied his teacher. Soon, he demonstrated the physical yoga exercises during Krishnamacharya's famous demonstrations.
It was only as late as 1933 that Krischnamacharya, supported by the Maharaja, opened the Yoga Shala in a side wing of the old Maharaja Palace, the Jaganmohan Palace. Now, more and more students came to learn yoga with Krishnamacharya. The Maharaja committed himself to making yoga more well-known and sponsored yoga demonstrations in schools and hospitals.
Since the Maharaja was also favourably disposed towards Pattabhi, he gave him money for private yoga demonstrations at the Palace and frequently asked him to come to him as early as 4 o'clock in the morning to take yoga lessons with Krishnamacharya's most long-standing pupil. At this time, Pattabhi already taught yoga to his fellow students at the Sanskrit College with Krishnamacharya's blessing. In March 1937, he even received a small financial support from the Maharaja in order to formally teach yoga at the College at Mysore. At the time, Pattabhi himself was only 21 years old. Pattabhi laughs: »Ten rupees a month« and once again shakes his head.
At the age of 27, Krishnamacharya started his journey into the Himalaya in 1915. It is said that he spent three and a half months wandering through the mountains before he finally found his teacher, Ramamohan Brāhmachāri, in a cave not far from the holy mountain Kailash. It was with him that Krishnamacharya studied philosophy, learned ancient source texts as well as the physical yoga practice. According to Desikachar, Krishnamacharya learned about 3000 different positions from Ramamohan Brāhmachāri, who himself mastered about 7000.
After seven and a half years of studying, Ramamohan Brāhmachāri send his pupil Krishnamacharya away to bring yoga back to where it had originally come from – Southern India or India as such. So, in 1922, Krishnamacharya left the Himalayan mountains and, after he had spent some time studying in Northern India, returned to Mysore in 1924.
Vinyasa yoga is a somewhat "trendy" way of practicing yoga. It is technically a relative of Ashtanga that branched off to focus more on Surya Namaskar and varied sequences. There is more creativity in Vinyasa flow and no two classes are alike.
Vinyasa yoga is often called "flow" yoga because it focuses on transitioning between each asana and the next pose. A very common flow between challenging postures is often referred to as "taking a Vinyasa flow". This means moving between Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward Facing Dog and Downward Facing Dog.
While Vinyasa is more beginner-friendly than Ashtanga, it can be particularly challenging for the wrists at first. Be sure to pay attention to proper alignment and posture during sharp transitions.
Vinyasa classes tend to be much shorter (30 to 60 minutes), more varied, and better for beginners who are short on time.
A Vinyasa teacher is is usually focused on leading the class and demonstrating postures rather than making adjustments to individual students. As the breath links continuous movement and certain poses are repeated, there is less time for modifications.