1% of theory
Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional style of yoga employing asana - the yoga postures, and vinyasa - the movement and breath, to create a gracefully flowing practice accessible for almost everyone who wants to discover the yet undiscovered abilities of their own bodies.
The first mention of Ashtanga Yoga, as we know it today, comes from the early texts of 1920 where the Maharaja of South Indian city Mysore asked one of his friends - T. Krishnamacharya to develop a sequence of yoga practice which would help the practitioners to develop a strong and healthy body and peaceful mind.
One of the most dedicated students of Krishnamacharya was Pattabhi Jois, and it was him, who along with his teacher, developed eventually 6 advanced in practice sequences of postures that bind together the breath and movement.
The first of the 6 sequences called “Primary Series” is the one dedicated to most of the practitioners, no matter their age or physical condition.
The sequence should be learned in the method which we know today as Mysore Style, where the teacher introduces one-by-one the asanas to the student individually, making sure that every practitioner receives a number of postures (with modifications, if applicable) suitable to their individual predispositions and needs.
In such a way, everyone learns, what ends up to be an intensive and advanced practice, in a slow, steady and safe way.
ASHTANGA YOGA PRACTICE
Ashtanga means eight limbs, which comprises of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Each limb is very essential and complete. According to Lord Patanjali if these limbs are practiced dedicatedly under the guidance of traditional and authentic teacher, yoga can cure or lessen our physical, mental, moral and spiritual sufferings, his wisdom radiates in glory.
Yama: Self restraint, they are Ahimsa (Non- Violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-Stealing), Brahmacharya(Celibacy), Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness).
If one follows Yama systematically, one develops a relationship of affection and compassion for all living beings. This attitude of perceiving all living beings with total equality is essential for the welfare of the society.
Niyama: Fixed observance, they are, Shaucha (purity), Santosha (content), Tapas (austerity), Swadhyaya (self study), Ishwara pranidhana (surrendering to lord). If one follows them systematically, then riots, anger, hatred and aversion will slowly disappear from the society.
Asana: Means posture, which brings steadiness in body and mind, and removes duality. Asana practice renders correct blood circulation. The ligaments and various parts of the body will function at the perfect, ultimate level.
Pranayama: Regulating the life force, physically the breath. To practice pranayama, certain level of competency should be developed in asana practice, which will be evaluated by teacher.
Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama are considered as (Bahiranga Yoga) external practices.
Pratyahara: Withdrawal of senses from its objects. Which means to bring the senses under control and to keep them from wandering as they wish.
Dharana: The act of concentration. This is very important step to achieve ekagrata (one – pointedness) of the mind. When mind is controlled the senses to follow it.
Samadhi: Complete absorption
Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are (Antaranga Yoga) internal practices.
Mere practice of rituals and debates on yoga topics wont give any result, only Abhyasa (dedicated practice) is the method through which one gets yoga sadhana. The obstacles in the practice of yoga are sleep, laziness and disease. One has to remove these by the root and throw them away in order to keep the yoga practice regular and continuous.