Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga: Meaning & Importance

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Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Besides this being a modern style, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has its origins in T. Krishnamacharya, the teacher of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga performed outside. He also teaches back then to B.K.S. Iyengar and Indra Devi, so the style of Yoga that is practised nowadays was based on Krishnamacharya knowledge.

So, after Krishnamacharya left Mysore, India, Pattabhi Jois taught what would become Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga until 1973.

By that time, this style had become known throughout India and had been discovered by people in Europe and the U.S. as well.

The same year, Guruji (Pattabhi Jois) got invited to Brazil to teach and do demonstrations, spreading the style to the western new continent. Although, this was his first trip abroad to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, definitely would not be his last.

Throughout the years, Ashtanga has spread across the United States and around the world, picking up countless followers and devoted yogis. Over that time, Ashtanga Vinyasa practitioners had made yearly trips to practice with Pattabhi Jois until his passing in 2009.

Now, the practices are from Sharath Jois, Pattabhi’s grandson and current figurehead of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Meaning of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, which purpose is to create a union among body, mind, and spirit. But, the eight limbs come from the foundations of yoga philosophy in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, his grandson, encourage the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, and that means all eight limbs. The first limb is Yama, and it has five moral codes, including behavioural attitudes and abstentions. These codes allow us to be in harmony with ourselves and our social interactions with the rest of the world.

The second limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga system contains the five internal practices of Niyama. The practices extend the ethical codes of conduct provided in his first limb, the Yamas. One support the other, Niyama and Yama are part of the same ethical system, and the union and practice of these limbs take you to Asanas. After the integration of your mind and spirit of the Yama and Niyama codes, there comes the third limb of yoga, Asana.

Asana is the body posture and exercise that create strength and endurance, improving circulation and energy flow. All the processes by cleansing organs and other systems, and expanding muscles and joints. Each asana in the different series is designed to build on the last to prepare you for the next asana as well.

The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system is a set progression that you will do each time you practice and is also a great way to develop a home practice. Asana works with Pranayama, the fourth limb, and is integral while performing Asanas because teaches breath control. Pratyahara is a process that describes the withdrawal of the five senses from external objects and is a bridge between the first four limbs and internal yoga.

This fifth limb has 4 steps, which names are Indriya Pratyahara, Prana Pratyahara, Karma Pratyahara (or Karma Yoga), and Mano Pratyahara. Dharana, the sixth limb of Yoga, englobes concentration, and the practice of this is an essential prerequisite to meditation. The seventh limb of Yoga is Dhyana, and it causes a state of deep meditation where there is no thought. The last limb of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is Samadhi, meaning this is the highest level of spiritual level. Here the practitioner is capable of contact with the Divine Consciousness in the upper strata.

Style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

There are two styles of teaching in Ashtanga, the led class, and the Mysore style class. Both have their advantages and drawbacks but are great ways of learning the tradition. With Mysore classes, a teacher assists and makes the alignment adjustments. He can also give you more personalized instruction and ideas to improve your practice.

This style is great for following your own breath and moving into a meditative state during your practice.
• In Mysore style, you come in and do your practice at your pace.
• It’s all about linking your breath to your movements.
• There is a teacher there to assist you and to offer advice or to adjust your alignment.

The Mysore style is personal instruction in a group setting. You will definitely have to provide your own motivation to complete your practice. In Mysore style, the teacher will add new asanas as you become more proficient in the previous one.

Another style is the led class, which is great for learning the sequence and having the teacher motivate you. Also having everyone breathing and moving together is a great way to build bonds with fellow practitioners. The drawback is that you are subject to the count of the teacher, or the pace that they are setting for the class. The teacher’s count may be too long, or even too short, for you.

Series of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is also a great way to incorporate the meditative side of yoga by having a set progression throughout the practice. With this, you can focus more on the breath and concentration of the mind, making a connection with your body.

The Primary series of Ashtanga consists of the asanas that you will see in most typical Vinyasa Flow classes. The yoga poses in the Primary series build upon each other as you progress through the series as well. This series means to purify and tone the body and also bring focus to the mind. As the detoxification process progresses.

The Intermediate series is focused to cleanse the nerves. This series has more backbends and headstand variations. Since our nervous system runs through our spine, the second series helps open the subtle channels so that prana or life force energy, may flow freer. This allows the cleansing of the nervous system. The backbends are there to preserve the spine and the suppleness of the back.

The series starts as the Primary with Surya Namaskar A and B (Sun Salutations A and B) and the standing postures. Also, it ends with the same closing postures as the Primary, the main difference comes in the middle. Although the Intermediate series is a complement to the Primary series, the idea of when to start the Second series still varies.

Advance Series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

The most agreed-upon gauge is having a firm grasp of the Primary series and being able to move through it without stopping and still maintaining a steady breath. Besides, the Advanced series is definitely one every practitioner should practice often to be proficient at it. The advanced sequence of Ashtanga Yoga, demands a high degree of strength and flexibility. A lot of practice and endurance are necessary.

What to Wear to Practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

There is no need to spend a lot of money on how you look to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Most Yoga is performed barefoot unless you have a foot injury that prevents you from being barefoot, you can wear some yoga shoes. This kind of shoe will bring you to balance, and grip, and help you with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. In terms of pants, simply choose comfortable pants or shorts that stretch.

Many practitioners prefer tighter pants to help check alignment and to keep everything covered. For your topside, choose a moisture-wicking fabric, especially if you’ll be participating in a heated yoga room. Also, there are three things you should never leave out: a mat, a bottle of water, and a towel. If you have longer hair, you will most likely want to keep it off your neck for comfort. Whatever hairstyle you choose, be sure it will be comfortable when you are lying down.

Practice for Life

The tradition of Ashtanga is a practice that you will always continue to learn from, no matter what series you may be in. So, the way the series complement one another and how they work to make a more complete and balanced practice is what makes up a life-long Ashtanga practice.

Whether you choose led classes or you progress to the Mysore classes, the Ashtanga practice will be a life-long partner. It will help to make you a better person, physical, mental, and spiritual. Besides, practitioners call it “Power yoga”, because Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga requires constant movement and is physically demanding.

This type of yoga practice is also the best fit for any athlete, especially those who know to play team sports and move very quickly. We invite you to our Yoga Retreats in Rishikesh, most of all because here you will experience the wonders of many types of Hatha Yoga.


Ashtanga Yoga – 8 limbs Of Yoga



Through food, meditation, and a harmonious environment, you will be able to achieve amazing states of healthy mind, body, and soul. Did you know Have you tried Ashtanga Yoga before? Which practice suits your individual needs as a yoga student? Would you like to try led or Mysore class? We love to hear from you in the comments below or share this article.

Maa Yoga Ashram is an ayurvedic treatment center in Rishikesh. The center also provides 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training In Rishikesh, 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training In Rishikesh and 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training In Rishikesh. It is 100 years old and helps people with a proper diet plan, therapies and exercises, our ayurvedic doctors will make your body good to go. Reducing excessive fat and making your body clean with the proper balance of energies within you is what our Ayurvedic practice is all about.

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