The style of yoga I practice six days per week is Ashtanga. Ashtanga is a system of yoga in which a set, progressive series of postures are coordinated with breath (ujjayi pranayama) and focused gaze (drishti). It is flowing and intense, producing internal heat and encouraging single pointed concentration.
During the week I typically arrive at the studio before 7 am, practice Mysore style and meditate until just after 9 am. On the weekends, I like to participate in teacher lead classes. Ashtanga yoga is vigorous and challenging, requiring patience and devotion, but it is also quite spiritual and healing. This combination of qualities is what drew me to it and keeps me practicing.
Ashtanga yoga was engineered to be a system of healing encouraging physical health and spiritual growth – a path to the “true self” which is free from suffering. There is some preliminary research and effort in using ashtanga yoga to help people with all kinds of physical and emotional challenges. For example, the Trini Foundation is using ashtanga yoga to help people in recovery from addictions. In a small study of twice weekly ashtanga yoga training in female college students, “participants were show to have increased upper body muscular endurance and increased trunk flexibility. There was additional evidence supporting positive effects on cardiovascular fitness, perceived stress, and mental health.” A study is presently underway at the University of Windsor in Canada about the beneficial effects of ashtanga yoga for breast cancer survivors.
In addition to earning my RYT-200 which was based in general hatha yoga, I completed a 40-hour Ashtanga yoga teacher training program and a 18-hour Ashtanga yoga teaching internship. Occasionally I teach classes and offer workshops. It has been a pleasure to continue my learning and share my knowledge of the practice with others.
Here are some helpful resources for those interested in learning more about Ashtanga yoga:
- Maya Yoga – Kansas City studio offering traditional Mysore and led classes
- Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series video with Sri K Pattabhi Jois
- R. Sharath Jois & Shri K. Pattabhi Jois – Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Demo, Part 1
- R. Sharath Jois & Shri K. Pattabhi Jois – Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Demo, Part 2
- Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Full Vinyasa video with Lino Miele
- Excellent explanation of Mysore style ashtanga yoga by Yoga Workshop
- Clayton Horton’s Ashtanga Primary Series video with basic instruction
- Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series video with Sri K Pattabhi Jois
- R. Sharath Jois leading Primary Series in Mysore, India
- Michael Gannon’s From Earth to Heaven Ashtanga Yoga video
- Ashtanga Primary Series video with Mark Darby and Nicole Bordeleau
- Ashtanga Yoga video with Kino MacGregor in Mysore, India
- Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson is a spiral bound full color book that lies flat on the floor in front of your mat and explains/illustrates poses by a master Ashtangi
- Ashtanga Yoga Project – a website for sharing information about the practice through pictures, blogs & community
- Guruji Lives Here – a video honoring the legacy of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, esteemed teacher of Ashtanga Yoga.
- Ashtanga yoga cheat sheets from ashtangayoga.info
- Ashtanga opening chant video by Melanie Cooper with captions
- Audio recording of Sri Pattabhi Jois chanting the opening invocation
- Ashtanga closing chant video by Sharath Jois with captions
- Audio recording of Sri Pattabhi Jois chanting the Mangala Mantram
Opening invocation at Maya Yoga:
Through sustained focus and meditation on our patterns, habits, and conditioning, we gain knowledge and understanding of our past and how we can change the patterns that aren’t serving us to live more freely and fully.
~ Yoga Sutra 3.18