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Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional form of Yoga. It is a dynamic and meditative Yoga based on coordination of breathing and movement (Vinyasa) in a fluid rhythmic sequence of poses.


Ashtanga means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit. It is a reference to the classical Yoga system developed by Patanjali. He described the eight steps or branches of Yoga leading to self-achievement:  Yama (moral code), Niyama (self-purification and study), Asana (poses), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), Dharana (Concentration),Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (contemplation).


Asana: Sanskrit expression referring to the third limb of Yoga in the sutra of Patanjali. It translates as “the way of sitting” and means poses in Yoga.

Pranayama: Sanskrit expression referring to the fourth limb of Yoga. It is the discipline of controlled breathing. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga uses the Ujjayi breathing “Victorious Breath”. The back of the throat is blocked, controlling the airflow during inhalation and exhalation.

Bandhas: They are internal body blocks which are activated through the contraction of specific muscles. The Bandhas facilitate breathing and postures. The three main Bandhas are: Mulabandha (root lock), Uddiyanabandha ( abdominal lock), and Jalandharabandha (throat lock).

Drishti: direction of the gaze. For each pose, there is a specific Drishti: nose, thumbs, navel, third eye, hands, right and left sides, upward, toes. It helps balance the external and internal practice.

Vinyasa: coordination of breathing and movement. The poses are linked by transitions during which each move is synchronized with an inhalation or exhalation and a count. For example: Surya Namaskar A Ekam (one) inhale, raise your arms…


The Method

Ashtanga Yoga follows a series of specific poses (Asana) based on the coordination of breathing and movement (Vinyasa), with the support of a special breathing technique (Ujjayi Pranayama), internal locks (Bandhas) and the direction of the gaze (Drishti).

These three elements: poses (Asana), breathing (Pranayama) and the direction of the gaze (Drishti) constitute the Tristhana which, together with the Vinyasa allows the harmonious execution of the series of poses.

In that yoga style, there are three series of poses. The first series (yoga chikitsa) focuses on the alignment, flexibility, and strengthening of the body. The intermediate series (Nadi Shodhana) develops these objectives but also stimulates the nervous system. The advanced series (Sthira Bhaga) considerably deepens all the features of this discipline.


AshtangaYoga develops the flexibility and strength of the body. Daily training builds flexibility, strength, tonicity and balance. Practiced regularly over time, this yoga can alleviate back pain, reduce high blood pressure and induce a healthy life style. Ashtanga Yoga can effectively reduce stress and the effects of overworking by controlling the breathing and facilitating positive self-awareness.

This type of Yoga has the advantage of soothing the mind and increasing concentration. The repetition of poses allows to heighten them and to meditate while moving. Regular practice reduces emotional reactions and the negative effects of mental tensions. Ashtanga Yoga harmoniously links body and mind.

Class structure during practice:

Before practice starts, a traditional opening mantra is chanted

  • Silent sitting (short meditation)
  • Setting the Ujjayi breath work
  • Sun salutations A and B
  • Fundamental standing poses
  • Sitting poses
  • Final sequences with inverted poses
  • Savasana (deep relaxation)
  • Traditional closing mantra


Sri K. Pattabhi Jois received Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teaching from Sri T.Krishnamacharya. In 1948, Pattabhi Jois created in Mysore the Ashtanga Yoga research center. In 1958, he published the classical “Yoga Mala” in which he sets the fundamentals of Ashtanga and Yoga philosophy. His grandson R. Sharath Jois continues to teach his method at K.Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore.

Practise, practise
and all is coming

Sri K. Pattabhis Jois