The Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system was spread worldwide by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009).
Practicing this method there are 3 sequences of asanas or series as we name them.
First series is called Yoga Chikitsa, that means ‘yoga therapy’.
It is a series that mainly detoxifies the body, develops strength and stamina too.
Second series we call it ‘Nadi Sodhana’, a series of asanas that works in more depth in the
nervous system, benefits the spine, opens the lungs so the prana can flow deeper.
Second series includes hip openers that work in more depth, some balancing asanas as also various headstands.
Third series we also name name them as ‘Sthira Bhaga’ is a series of advance asanas that combine the four qualities of balance, flexibility, strength and stamina.
The third group of series can be divided into four series as Advance A, B, C, D.
So in total we can say that there are 6 series of asanas, each one develops in a more advance and demanding approach.
These series are studied in a methodical approach step by step and according the level of the practitioner.
Each series takes some time of practice to be well understood, it is said in general that a practitioner need about 1000 times to repeat each one to get familiar with it.
A new student that starts with this method at first he/she introduced to a combination of asanas we call as Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) so the body starts already to develop strength and heat in order to become more flexible.
In this method we need a good combination of flexibility and strength in a balanced way with the proper stamina so the body will develop in a beneficial harmony through the time.
Once the practice of the sun salutation is well established then we teach a group of standing poses, that also focusing in the four qualities (flexibility, strength, balance, stamina).
When that is also established well then we start the first series, a group of forward bends that ‘opens’ the body in a very beneficial way.
It develops from simple, primary to a more advance poses gradually.
The main idea is that when a asana is done well then the next one will be added.
To say ‘when an asana is done well’ is a lifetime work, but for a beneficial approach we can say that when the breath works well and deep, when the alignment is well and safe from injuries, and when the mind is set and focus in the flow of the series, then we can add the next asana.
In this way we develop the first series, and in a similar way we will approach the second and third series too.
An important criteria is not only the flexibility, but all combinations of flexibility, strength, balance and stamina too.
Yoga is different from gymnastics in the sense that it uses asanas from various categories, as to say asanas that will massage our navel for example. Many diseases that we have can be from the not well capacity of digestion.
An important approach is for a balanced and beneficial practice is also to have a proper lifestyle, combined with the proper nutrition for example.
In this way Yoga and Ayurveda are two ‘sister’ sciences that work well together in order to benefit the practitioner.
We are all made from five mail elements, earth, water, fire, air, either and out of these there are three main body-types, Kafa (earth, water), Pitta (fire, water), Vata (air, either).
Knowing our body type is extremely beneficial to know for example what type of physical exercise will work better, what type of nutrition, environment, etc.
Yoga is for all and as in every other system in order to experience the results it needs patience, persistence and effort.
When a practitioner if well familiar with the practice of asana, then the practice of pranayama (breathing exercises) can be taught. Prana is an important element for our health and vitality, so pranayama is done to increase our prana.
It also has a primary, intermediate and advance approach and it is taught in a methodical way to benefit each practitioner.
When the practice of asana is done well with the proper use of prana, we can feel a ‘lightness’ in our body, and of course our nutrition is very important too for that state.
There is no right or wrong age for starting the practice of yoga asana & pranayama, since such practices are taught individually to each one, according the body-type and interest for this practice.
As we find many different names and styles of yoga today, we can say that all types of yoga are a set of Hatha yoga and out of that many different styles, schools, and approaches are there.
Our method it is called ‘Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga’.
It takes its name from Patanjali yoga sutra as ‘Ashtanga’ means 8 steps, and the name ‘Vinyasa’ comes from an ancient text called ‘Sangita Ratnakara’ that describes the effect of the sound in the human body.
With the name Ashtanga Vinyasa’ we can think of a series of asanas that are practiced in a flow, as when the notes are performed in a flow creates a musical piece.
In our center we do teach these groups of asanas as also the practice of pranayama inspired by a healthy lifestyle that can benefit our life in whatever we do.
A distinctive part of each yoga school is its lineage:
the chain of people who have received, learnt and transmitted the knowledge onwards.
Ashtanga yoga has its roots in the teachings of the great yogi T.K.V Krishnamacharya.
Based on an ancient text known as Yoga Korunta, he developed the series of the
Asthanga Vinyasa system.
A loyal student of Krishnamacharya and later on a great yoga teacher was Shri Pattabhi Jois.
Through Pattabhi Jois this yoga system became known to the western world in the early ‘70’s
and started spreading worldwide thereafter.
Nowadays, the Ashtanga tradition is being spread from his descendants:
his son Manju Jois, his daughter Saraswati, his grandson Sharath and distinctive students such
as David Williams, Richard Freeman, David Swenson etc.
As for Europe, the dissemination of the system began in the early 80’s by Derek Ireland who opened the first Ashtanga yoga sala in Northern Crete, Greece.