Ashtanga yoga is the oldest dynamic form of Yoga (300 – 250 BC), and basis for the development of nowadays popular dynamic Yoga styles (Power yoga, Vinyasa etc.). It is based on the performance of the traditional sequence of postures (asanas) which are interconnected, while paying special attention to breathing (ujjayi breathing), focus of vision (drishti), and interior „energy valves" (bandhas). The roots of Ashtanga Yoga can be found in the traditional texts.
Patanjali in Yoga Sutras describes eight consisting parts of Ashtanga Yoga:
- YAMA – respect of moral values
- NIYAMA – physical and mental discipline
- ASANA - postures
- PRANAYAMA – breathing control
- PRATYAHARA – sensory control
- DHARANA – concentration
- DHYANA – meditation
- SAMADHI – state of absolute bliss
Ashtanga Yoga integrates the rhythm of movements and awareness of breathing, and the focus of vision while performing asanas. The synchronisation of movements, breathing and vision during asanas performance is of the utmost importance. Movements in sync with breathing are called vinyasas. Ashtanga Yoga promotes conscious breathing as the core of the process, and connects asanas in a precise sequence. Every asana (or a group of asanas) has a specific impact on our body as a counterbalance to the previous asanas, and as a preparation for the following asanas. To accumulate positive effects, protect and balance the body, it is important to follow the sequence.
Ashtanga Yoga Mysore Style - This is the traditional teaching method of theAshtanga Yoga system. The oldest teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois teaches this method in his school in the Indian town of Mysore, hence the name "Mysore Style" used to describe this particular type of classes.
In Ashtanga Yoga Mysore Style class each student exercises independently the Ashtanga Yoga series in their own tempo, and the teacher assists and corrects if and when necessary, which is basically an individual class in group surrounding. Ashtanga Yoga series are taught posture after posture, and new postures are added when the student is ready, so most of the time the student practices without the teacher''s leading. The classes of independent exercising unite students with different abilities, from absolute beginners to experienced athletes.
Ashtanga Yoga Led Class - Unlike Mysore Style classes, Ashtanga Yoga Led Class is a led class. Teacher leads the group through Ashtanga Yoga cycle from posture to posture, sets the rhythm of practicing and assists the students if necessary.