What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga ?

A Brief description of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Practice 

Ashtanga Vinyasa is a thousand years old system given by Vamana Rishi.  The Vinyasa count is a format in which the Rishi Vamana recorded the Ashtanga practice. Each movement that is needed to enter and exit a posture in the traditional way is counted along with breathing. Different Asanas have a different sets of vinyasa counts as they are performed differently. Breathing in vinyasa acts like a string that holds the practice together. We move into and out of poses with breath. 

You move with the breath & not breathe with the movement.

The most visible aspect of the Ashtanga Yoga system is the different yoga Asanas & the movements. More important, though, is the invisible content, which consists of three fundamental techniques. These techniques bind the postures together on a string.

The three fundamental techniques are 

  • Breath

  • Bandhas

  • Drishti

Which type of breathing is used in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?​

Breathing used in this practice is Ujjayi breathing, which is done by slight constriction of glottis while breathing. Inhale and exhale are equal length. The sound of Ujjayi draws attention inwards and withdraws it from the external world, inducing a state of Pratyahara, the fifth limb of Patanjali`s Ashtanga Yoga. The breath also works as a feedback system on the quality of your practice. No Ujjayi sound, shallow breathing, and fidgeting indicate that the awareness has drifted and focus is lost. 

Which are Bandhas used in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

All three Bandhas namely Moola Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha & Jalandhar Bandha are used during the practice. Moola Bandha is used throughout the practice along with laghu Uddiyana Bandha. Jalandhar Bandha is used in some Asanas.

What are Drishti Points in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

Drishti or gazing point is used in each Asana as specified. This forms the sense withdrawal and meditative part of practice along with a focus on breathing. Various Drishti points are used, for example, Nasagre Drishti (Nose tip), ​ Hastagre Dristi (Hand), Padagre Dristi (Toes), Parsva Drishti (Side & Behind),  Angushtagre  (Thumb), Nabhi Dristi (Navel Point ), Urdhav Dristi (Upward gazing), Bhrumadhya Dristi (Eyebrow center)

Why is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga called moving meditation?

The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice is dynamic meditation. Every breath taken becomes a conscious one. The consistent flow, the Bandhas, the Drishti, and the sound of the Ujjayi are techniques designed to induce a state of meditation.  The system is designed to work as a movement meditation, where the transitions from each posture to the next are as important as the postures themselves, focus on breathing and Drishti points bring the mental focus into the practice. Body, breath, and mind work together to keep the practitioner in the present moment on the mat. This a state of yoga when the mind is in the present moment, present place and fully concentrated on the practice. 

A beginner usually starts at Primary series which is the first stepping stone to higher practices in later series of Vinyasa. The primary series prepares the sadhaka`s body in terms of flexibility and strength and mind in terms of concentration and awareness for advanced Yoga practices. Here is a list of Yoga Asanas used in primary series 

List of Primary Series Asanas

1.Surya Namaskar A                   

2.Surya Namaskar B

3.Padangushtasana          

4.Padhastasana

5.Utthita Trikonasana A & B

6.Utthita Parsvkonasana A & B

7.Prasarita Padottanasana A - D

8.Parsvottanasana

9.Utthitahasta Padangusthasana

10.Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

11.Utkat Asana      

12.Veerbhadrasana A&B

13. Dandasana

14.Paschimottanasana

15.Purvottanasana

16.Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana

17.Triangamukhaikapada Paschimottanasana

18.Janu Sirsasana A - C

19.Marichiasana A - D

20.Navasana

21.Bhujpeedasana

22.Kurmasana

23.Suptakurmasana

24.Garbha Pindasana

25.Kukkutasana

26.Badhakonasana A & B

27.Upvistha Konasana A & B

28.Supta Konasana

29.Supta Padanguthasana

30.Ubhaya Padangusthasana

31.Urdhavamukha Paschimottanasana

32.Setubandhasana

33.Urdhava Dhanurasana

34.Sarvangasana

35.Halasana

36.Karna Pidasana

37.Urdhava Padmasana

38.Pindasana

39.Matsyasana

40.Uttana Padasana

41.Sirsasana  

44.Baddha Padmasana

45.Yoga Mudra

46.Padmasana

47.Uthplutih

Ashtanga Opening Prayer


वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे सन्दर्शित स्वात्म सुखाव बोधे ।
निःश्रेयसे जङ्गलिकायमाने संसार हालाहल मोहशांत्यै ॥
आबाहु पुरुषाकारं शंखचक्रासि धारिणम् ।
सहस्र शिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ॥

 

auṁ

vande gurūṇāṁ caraṇāravinde
sandarśita svātma sukhāva bodhe
niḥ-śreyase jaṅgali-kāyamāne
saṁsāra hālāhala mohaśāṁtyai

ābāhu puruṣākāraṁ
śaṁkhacakrāsi dhāriṇam
sahasra śirasaṁ śvetaṁ
praṇamāmi patañjalim

auṁ

 

Om

I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches knowledge, awakens great happiness of Self revelation
Who acts like the jungle physician
Able to remove the delusion from the poison of conditioned existence

To Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, white in colour with a thousand radiant heads, human in form above  the shoulders, holding the sword of discrimination, a wheel of fire representing infinite time, and the conch representing divine sound.
To him, I prostrate.

 

Ashtanga Closing Prayer

स्वस्तिप्रजाभ्यः परिपालयंतां

न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः ।

गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं 

लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनोभवंतु ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः |

aum

svasti-prajā-bhyaḥ pari-pāla-yaṁtāṁ

 nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ |

go-brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubham-astu nityaṁ

 lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino-bhavaṁtu ||

auṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ |

Om

May the well-being of all people be protected, By the powerful and mighty leaders be with law and justice.

May good success be with all cows (divinity) and scholars, May all the worlds become happy.

Om peace, peace, peace

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