Ashtanga is the ancient practice of yoga, meaning eight limbs or branches, and is described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is an ancient system of self-realization of which asana is just one component, and through dedicated practice, one is able to ‘suspend the fluctuations of the mind’ and attain freedom from suffering. Ashtanga yoga integrates the practice of the eight limbs - including breathing techniques, postures, mental exercises, and lifestyle choices to bring the mind under control and enable sustainable inner peace and happiness.
The modern method of Ashtanga yoga is technically known as the Ashtanga Vinyasa system and is a series of asana sequences of increasing difficulty that work to strengthen, cleanse and purify the body in preparation for meditation and other higher practices of yoga.
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic yoga practice synchronizing breath and movement. The same sequence of asanas is followed each time, allowing the body to realign and detoxify. As students progress they move to more advanced sequences. The first sequence is known as the Primary Series and focuses on building foundational strength and flexibility, including forwarding bends, twists and hip openers.
The first series of asana sequences in the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system is known as the Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga Therapy). This series works to heal and align the body, with a particular focus on the realignment of the spine and detoxification. The dedicated practice of the first series builds foundational strength, flexibility, and endurance in preparation for the following sequences.