What is Ashtanga and why is it important in Yoga?

April 10th, 2023

Ashtanga refers to both a specific style of yoga and a collection of ancient yogic teachings. Ashtanga yoga was popularised by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and is often referred to as "Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga." It is a dynamic, physically demanding practice that follows a set sequence of postures linked together with breath and movement.

Sunny will be holding classes that are suitable for both beginners and those at and advanced level and you can book onto these coursesvia our What's On Page.

Here are some key aspects and reasons why Ashtanga yoga is important in the realm of yoga:

  1. Eight Limbs of Yoga: Ashtanga yoga derives its name from the "Eight Limbs of Yoga" as described by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. These limbs provide a comprehensive framework for spiritual growth and self-realisation. Ashtanga yoga emphasises the integration and practice of these limbs, which include ethical principles, physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), concentration, meditation, and more.

  2. Structured and Systematic Practice: Ashtanga yoga follows a fixed sequence of postures, known as the Primary Series, which is later supplemented by Intermediate, Advanced A, and Advanced B series. The consistent sequence provides structure and discipline, allowing practitioners to progressively deepen their practice over time. The systematic approach helps build strength, flexibility, and endurance while fostering a meditative state of mind.

  3. Breath and Movement Synchronisation: Ashtanga yoga places significant emphasis on the coordination of breath (Ujjayi pranayama) with movement (vinyasa). Each movement is linked to a specific breath, creating a flowing and rhythmic practice. The synchronisation of breath and movement helps to generate internal heat, purify the body, and focus the mind.

  4. Physical and Mental Benefits: Ashtanga yoga is physically demanding, and regular practice can lead to increased strength, flexibility, and balance. The continuous movement and focused breath cultivate a deep meditative state, promoting mindfulness, concentration, and stress reduction. Ashtanga yoga can also improve cardiovascular fitness, detoxify the body, and enhance overall physical and mental well-being.

  5. Tradition and Lineage: Ashtanga yoga has a rich history and lineage that traces back to ancient yogic texts. Practicing Ashtanga yoga allows individuals to connect with this traditional and time-tested approach, honouring the wisdom and teachings passed down through generations.

It's worth mentioning that Ashtanga yoga may not be suitable for everyone, especially beginners or those with certain health conditions. It is recommended to learn Ashtanga yoga from a qualified teacher like Sunny who can guide you through the practice and provide appropriate modifications.