Ashtanga, sometimes called Ashtanga Vinyasa, is a dynamic, flowing style of yoga. The name comes from the Sanskrit for ‘eight limbs’, a reference to ancient yoga scriptures which describe a comprehensive system with physical, ethical, and meditative components. Ashtanga as it is widely known now was developed in southern India by T.Krishnamacahrya and his students. It is based on the idea that the physical practices of yoga are the most readily accessible, but with an understanding that they can lead a practitioner towards the deeper realms of yoga.
In a class, asana (postures) are taught in a set sequence along with rigorous breathing techniques. The class begins with a flowing series of sun salutations, then moving to standing postures, then seated postures, and closing with breathwork and rest. Postures build on one another and add up to a complete practice touching every part of the body – and ideally the mind also. Within the framework, there is wide scope for adapting the practice to suit each practitioner.
In a led class, the teacher leads the whole class through a sequence together. In a mysore-style class, students are taught individually, so that each is working on the most appropriate, adapted postures as needed.
Ashtanga is a vigorous style, to challenge and benefit anyone who is ready to commit to it.