About Ashtanga Yoga

All material below is from the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute’s website.
adho-mukha-padmasana ashtavakrasana galavasana
garbhapindasana garbha pindasana janu shirshasana
 paripurna matsyendrasana paschimattanasana sarvangasana
 shirshasana virabhadrasana viranchyasana

“Yoga can be practiced by anyone, whether young, old, very old, healthy or sick. Even so, the way in which a young person is taught will differ in manner from the way in which an old or sick person will be taught. Therefore, each student must be considered as an individual and taught at a pace that is suitable for their situation in life.


The format of the practice always remains the same; one always begins practice with Surya Namaskar, concludes with Padmasana and rest, and the various asanas gradually fill the space between these two poles. Learning yoga in this traditional manner benefits the student on many levels. It is possible for one to gain independence and confidence in their sadhana (spiritual practice), as well, something truly becomes one’s own when they learn it by heart. It is through the daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga that we draw it into ourselves, understand it, and become proficient in its methods, thereby reaping its wide range of benefits. For this to be accomplished, a slow, dedicated and patient approach is best.

Vinyasa means careful linking of breath and movement. The Surya Namaskar and each of the successive asanas are comprised of a particular number of vinyasas. Vinyasa creates heat in the body, which warms the blood. The warmed blood passes through the muscles, nerves, internal organs and glands, removes toxins from them, and carries them out through the sweat. This is how the process of purification begins. It is important that the student does not rush ahead doing too many asanas, and allows the body to be gradually purified. If one rushes ahead quickly, it is possible for sickness to occur, rather than purification. It is important that the teacher checks to ensure that the position of the body and the movement of breath are correct in each asana before moving the student forward so that one may reap the proper benefit of Ashtanga Yoga.”

2 thoughts on “About Ashtanga Yoga

  1. Hi Emma,
    I am currently, living and working in China, but my wife and two daughters are back home now in Wabash, IN. When I return hopefully in April, I would like to get a 200 hr certification . Do you have any advice, I have been practicing on my own for three years I have never set foot in an ashram. Thank God for You Tube! Yoga has pretty well invaded every effing corner of my life. It also continues too expand in ways that I never thought possible.

    • Good for you for maintaining a home practice, Mike. Honestly, I would very strongly recommend finding a real, live teacher to work with before getting certified to teach. I learn far more from my teachers than I did in my 200 hour training! Yoga is traditionally passed on from teacher to student, so you’re missing a vital part of that process if you skip it on the way to becoming a teacher yourself.

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