Ashtanga yoga

As taught by SRI K. PATTABHI JOIS 

Ujjayi - Asana - Dristi

Through the training of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), body positions (asanas) and focus points (dristi), we can learn to control our senses and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. If this discipline is done regurarly and devoteadly it will lead to stability in body and mind. The word ashtanga means eight limbs.

The eight limbs
These are according to Patanjali
Yama ((moralcodes), Niyama (self -purification and study), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathcontrol), Pratyahara (sense control), Dharana ( concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorbation into the Universal).

Asana - posture
Asana are different postions of the body. Asana is also the key to developing yama and niyama. Pranayama (breathcontrol) can be done without asana. When these four outside limbs are in balance the following four inner limbs will develop naturally with time.

Vinyasa - syncronised movement and breath - inner heat
Vinyasa means that movement and breathing are syncronised, linking the different asanas together. This special breathing is very important in yoga and directs the movement in an exact form. When you do this and activate Mula Bhanda and Uddiyana Bandha (so called body locks) you produce a very strong inner and outer heat. This warmth cleanses the body, the organs and clears it from toxics. It also stimulates and set positive hormones and minerals free which nourishes the body as the sweat is massaged into the skin. The breathing regulates vinyasa and sees to that the circlation of the blood is effectivized. The result is a healthy and light body.

We practise three series
There are six series in ashanga yoga, but most people "only" work with the three first. Yoga Chikitsa - the first serie - purifies and cleanses the body. Nadi Shodana - the second serie - cleanses the nerveous system through opening and cleansing of the energy channels. The advanced serie: A, B, C, and D - Sthira Bhaga - integrates strength, beauty and grace, which demands a higher form of flexibility and humbleness.                                                                                                                   Every level should be fullfilled before moving on to the next and the precise order of asanas shall be carefully followed. Every position is a preparation for the next and builds the strength and balance acquired to continue.