Ashtanga Yoga was formalized by Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) or Guruji for his students. It refers to 8 limbs or stages that are accomplished progressively (although not obligatorily in order) and out of great discipline. The physical practice (asana) in the Ashtanga system is conducted by the Vinyasa or the syncronization of movement and breath: for each movement one breath. Guruji’s method is based on the teachings of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888 – 1989), modern yoga’s pioneer thanks to whom yoga arrives to the western world thanks to the diffusion carried by his students. Among other students of Krishnamacharya we recall: Indra Devi (1899–2002), , B.N.S. Iyengar (1924-2011), T. K. V. Desikachar (1938-2016), Srivatsa Ramaswami (nato nel 1939) e A. G. Mohan (nato nel 1945).
Ashtanga Yoga is not only a physical practice, it is an antique philosophy that was coded by the sage Patanjali whom explained through Yoga Sūtra (योगसूत्र; “Yoga aphorisms”) the 8 limbs of yoga mentioned above: Yama (self-restraints), Niyama (observances), Asana (physical postures), Paranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (control of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) e Samadhi (absorption).
“PRACTICE PRACTICE ALL IS COMING” – Sri K Pattabhi Jois
These 8 limbs are not to be perceived as stair treads to follow, you don’t go up one after the other. Yama and niyama are practiced contemporarily and all the time, the other stages are developed differently in each human being, there is no fixed rule.
However, the physical practice stabilizes and grounds the body, preparing it for the next more contemplative limbs. It is in the heat of this practice that we will find the first changes and obstacles. Humbleness, discipline, awareness and continuity are very needed. All this with non-attachment.
We find three points of attention in the practice (Tristhana): breath (Ujjayi), posture(asana) and gaze or focus point (drishti). To this we add the bandhas or “internal locks” which allow ourselves to control and channel the energy and to sustain the practice in all of its intensity. The effects of this patient walk towards physical and mental presence are to be noted since the very beginning!