The Ashtanga Yoga method is comprised of many separate asana (postures) that are divided into four separate sequences linked together by vinyasa breathing and moving system. The format of the practice always remains the same; one always begins practice with Surya Namaskar, concludes with Padmasana and rest, and the various asanas gradually fill the space between these two poles.
The traditional manner in which the Ashtanga Yoga system is taught is referred to as Mysore-style. Each student is considered as an individual and taught at a pace that is suitable for their situation in life. Given the difficult nature of learning and remembering the various postures, guided and led classes are taught, in which students follow along together accordingly.
The Ashtanga method involves linking breath and movement with an increasingly challenging series of postures, while engaging energetic locks (bandhas) and finding an intern focus or gazing point (dristhi) to produce an internal heat that creates a purifying sweat.
Meant to purify both the body and mind, a vital aspect of the practice is internal purification of the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart – desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy, and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons, and the light of our inner nature shines forth.
The Ashtanga vinyasa method – as is any hatha yoga practice – is intended to be a daily practice. Traditionally, practice takes place every day except for Saturdays and full & new moon days which occur about twice monthly.
Mysore Style + Guided Classes
Ashtanga – Half Primary
The Half Primary classes are an introduction for students to the full Primary Series, a few poses at a time, while they continue to build upon fundamentals and increase strength and flexibility.
Each pose is taught in stages, depending on the students’ needs, providing modifications where necessary. The stages for seated poses might include the use of props such as blankets, blocks or straps. Students are also taught safe methods to advance their practice of the ending backbends, as well as the challenging “finishing series” of asanas, shoulder stands and headstands.
While Half Primary classes move more slowly than Primary Series classes, you’ll build up heat in your body, sweat and detoxify. The class allows for more instruction, introducing each of the more advanced poses in an approachable way.
The class is appropriate for anyone with an existing Ashtanga Practice, as well as anyone with an active yoga practice who is interested in trying Ashtanga. This truly a mixed level class that attracts new students as well as more experienced Primary Series students – whatever your experience leave, you have to start somewhere, let your practice meet you where you are.
Ashtanga – Primary (Guided)
The Primary series or “Yoga Chikitsa” (yoga therapy) is a system designed to link breath and movement as you are guided through a progressively challenging series of postures, creating an internal heat and a purifying sweat that detoxifies your body. You will practice call-and-response opening and closing mantras and hear traditional Sanskrit counting and names of poses.
The Ashtanga Yoga method is built around the ‘Mysore Style’ class, so named because yoga was taught this way by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India, and continues to be taught this way in traditional Ashtanga Yoga schools around the world.
- Benefit from Mysore Style. This class is not led; all instruction is given on an individual basis. The correct movements, breathing, and other aspects of the practice are learned gradually in a step-by-step process. As you gain strength, stamina, flexibility and focus, poses will be added to their sequence – this method allows each student time to practice and memorize what they have learned before adding more.
- There is no official start time or end time. As long as you leave enough time to finish your full practice, you can come to Mysore class at any point during the allotted time.
- Follow your breath. Led classes are a fantastic way to learn about syncing the breath and movement. Mysore-style allows you to follow your breath to full capacity and deepen your focus.
- You get individual attention. In any style of yoga, we encounter poses or aspects of the practice that are difficult and challenging. In a led class, you may need to skip a difficult pose in order to honor your body, but in Mysore style you have the opportunity to work at your own pace and with the teacher as needed.
- Mysore class is for everyone. Mysore class allows individuals at different levels of experience to practice together while surrounded by the energy and inspiration of other students in the room.