Ahstanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ahstanga Vinyasa Yoga has been popularised by Pattabhi Jois and is not to be confused with 'Ahstanga' yoga which was codified by the Indian sage Patanjali and refers to the eight limbed system of yoga. Pattabhi Jois dedicated most of his 93 years to studying this physically intense style of yoga, he also studied the vedas, yoga therapy, philosophy and meditation. Ahstanga Vinyasa Yoga focusses on continued movement made up of asanas (poses), linked together in a particular sequence using the breath (pranayama). Each posture is in preparation for the next and usually acts as a counterpose for the previous one. This strong & challenging yoga will help you achieve flexibility, strength, endurance whist building up heat to purify the nervous system and detoxify the body.
The key elements that are focused on with Ahstanga are: breathing (pranayama), focal points for ones gaze (dristhis), the contraction of internal muscles (bandhas or locks) & the postures (asanas). These techniques are used in conjunction with each other. The emphasis is getting these techniques right and all working in harmony with one another, the breath is the main focus with each movement taking one breath which is accompanied by the bandhas so that the postures have the most beneficial effect. The dristhis (looking places), combined with pranayama, focus your senses throughout your practice and help you achieve steadiness which leads to concentration (dharana), which leads to meditation (dhyana).
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system uses three main sequences: The primary series is known as Yoga Chikitsa, helps to align the body and expel toxins. The intermediate series is known as Nadi Shodhana, opens the energy channels and purifies the nervous system. The advanced sequence iis known as Sthira Bhaga, and is a higher level series that requires a greater degree of flexibility, lightness and grace.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga: physical, emotional, mental and intellectual benefits. Physically the body becomes light and free of disease or any restriction. Emotionally able to remain a witness to ones own emotions rather than a slave. Mentally recognizing oneself as the immortal with infinite consciousness rather than just a body. Intellectually being able to see the world as it really is.