Ashtanga yoga is a complete yoga method based on Bhakti (devotion) to a breathing and movement system called vinyasa. Through Ashtanga yoga you come to realize your Self and your purpose by learning to systematically combine several internal and external techniques including: breathing, internal locks, meditation, posture, conscious movement and gazing. When these basic techniques are applied with discipline, subtlety and skill, they are excellent tools for becoming physically and mentally strong and perceptive. When you’ve developed your practice, you learn to ‘inhabit’ your body like an animal moving freely in the wild and at the same time your mind becomes strong and fit for meditation. Practicing to create this combination of physical grace and power and mental clarity and openness leads to spiritual awakening. The method consists of learning rigorous, well-balanced sets of postures and the vinyasa positions that form the set sequences. The alternating, opposing movement and breathing patterns within the given sequences help you to internalize your mind and to gain depth and wisdom by observing the true nature of what is happening within you.
The Ashtanga yoga method was originally taught in Mysore, southern India by the late yoga master, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Since the first Ashtanga classes were taught in Mysore, this style of teaching is named after the city and is really just short for “Mysore Style Ashtanga.”
This Summary of the Ashtanga yoga lineage was given with permission and written by my teacher, David Garrigues