Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional style of Hatha yoga popularised by Sri.K Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, South India (1915-2009). He studied with his Guru T.Krishnamacharya for over 35yrs, continuing to teach what he learnt in the form of Ashtanga Yoga. He founded the Ashtanga Yoga research institute in 1948 known as the Krsna Pattabhi Jois Astanga Yoga Institute which is now run by Pattabhi’s grandson and daughter Sharath and Saraswati in Mysore.
According to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga Yoga is a path that leads us to the spirit that resides in all of us, and is in fact our very nature.
It is often described as an athletic and dynamic form of yoga. In many ways this is true though Ashtanga does much more than strengthen and stretch the body. The method brings an awareness of breath and movement developing concentration and focus through the techniques of drsti (gazing point) and bandhas (energetic locks) which brings about a deep sense of stillness and awareness of the body and mind.
In Ashtanga practice, the breath (ujjayi breathing), asana (posture), vinyasa krama (breath & movement technique), bandhas (muscle and energetic locks) and drstis (gazing points) are all used in conjunction, which acts to deeply warm the body, making it safe, and wonderfully intense. The inner heat generates a cleansing process that affects everything from the organs, to the muscles, to the nervous system, to the mind and spirit.
With continued use of these techniques the mind tends to settle leading the practitioner towards a more contemplative awareness which can help in the development of meditation practice.
The practice of Ashtanga yoga can be learned by anyone who wishes to learn it. There is no barrier in the form of age, health, sex, sexual preference, religion or race. Yoga addresses the common drive that all humans have: to be happy, to know one’s self, and to fulfill one’s purpose here on this planet during the short span of our lives.