What does ‘ashtanga’ mean?
The fundamental premise of yoga is the creation of a union between the body, the mind and the spirit. ‘Ashtanga’ translates from Sanskrit as ‘eight limbs’. The eight limbs of yoga were meant to be a process by which a student, or aspirant, yokes the body, mind, and spirit together creating union within the self and with all things. Each limb is a stepping stone to the next limb, though mastery of each limb is not required before proceeding. Sometimes if a student is struggling with one limb, such as asana (postures), it may be beneficial to explore other limbs (such as practicing the yama ahimsa) to assist in processing or better understanding the struggle being faced.
What is ashtanga vinyasa yoga?
The current ashtanga vinyasa system, as taught by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his grandson Sharath Jois at the Sri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, is a philosophical and practical lineage that reaches back through thousands of years of yogic tradition. It takes its name from the eight-limbed (ashtau=eight, anga=limb) system outlined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, written around 200 BCE. Through careful passing along of this practice from guru to student by way of a tradition known in Sanskrit as ‘guru-shishya parampara’ (teacher-student uninterrupted oral succession) this lineage has been preserved to the present day. Pattabhi Jois, and his guru T. Krishnamacharya, taught a form of yoga practice handed down orally from its original documentation in the Yoga Korunta.
The traditional form of ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice has inspired other modern styles of yoga such as vinyasa flow, power yoga, and Jivamukti. Ashtanga vinyasa is a very specific sequence of postures, connected to each other by vinyasa (movement) and tristhana (breath, bandhas and drishti), that when practiced regularly purify the body, and with perseverance and dedication, the mind.
Traditionally, students are taught postures one-by-one, ensuring that the posture, and its place in the sequence, is completely understood and practiced correctly. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, or any regular physical practice, changes the body and mind in many ways. This teaching method ensures that the body is allowed to change at its own pace, reducing injury and fatigue, and making the practice far more accessible and enjoyable. It should not be perceived by a student as negative to spend extra time at a specific posture in the sequence.
How Ekam Yoga applies this teaching method…
The intention of Ekam Yoga is to encourage and support students in developing their own self-practice, following the traditional method as closely as possible. We ask that you respect the instructor if he or she asks to you stop at a particular posture. This stopping point is only temporary as the student opens to the physical and mental aspects of this new posture. The student may always speak with the instructor outside of practice time to determine the reason for stopping and what the student can do to overcome this challenge.