Despite its recent popularity, Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of yoga, taught by Vemana Rishi in the Yoga Koruta. It is said that these scriptures were lost and rediscovered, and imparted to Sri Krishnamacharya in the early 1900s by his teacher Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Later it was passed down to Pattabhi Jois in 1927. It is regarded that Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India is the founder of modern Ashtanga yoga. He died in May 2009. Now his ground son Sharath teaches in Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore in his place.
Ashtanga yoga has 6 series, each getting progressively more difficult. The primary series is the most well known and well practiced series as being the entry level to Ashtanga practice. Each series has very strict order of postures and they are always practiced in that particular order as one posture prepares you for the next.
Ashtanga yoga is characterised by special breathing technique called Ujjayi breathing, and the adaptation of bandhas (locks). The postures are connected together with a movement called vinyasa and therefore the practice is continuous and flowing.
In most of the cases Ashtanga yoga classes are 2 hours long. The class begins with sun salutation A and B followed by standing postures, sitting postures, finishing postures (head stand and shoulder stand) and pranayama (breathing practice) and relaxation. Usually it takes a few years of dedicated practice to master the primary series to move on to the secondary series.
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Recommended book : Ashtanga Yoga by John Scott (Gaia Books)
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
(please note Atsuko's regular weekly classes are combinations of different Hatha yoga disciplins and only broadly based on Ashtanga Yoga. 'Ashtanga Yoga workshop' is run tiwice monthly. Please click Yoga with Atsuko Home Page)