s taught by K. Pattabhi Jois, of Mysore, India, to thousands of students since 1948, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga incorporates several specific series of yoga postures linked by breathing and movements callled vinyasas.
This practice is strong and flowing, and is learned through repetition, one posture at a time. The outer forms of each posture are supported internally by energetic locks, (bandhas), specific gazing points called dhristi, and focused breathing, (ujjayi pranayama). When practiced in unison these techniques produce heat and refinement in the body along with a calm and centered mind; bringing about purification and transformation on all levels.
To many people yoga is simply a type of exercise useful in developing flexibility. The real scope of hatha yoga, however, goes well beyond that. A regular, consistent practice (sadhana), can help to develop concentration, increase self-awareness, promote contentment and self-validation as well as foster a sense of community with all beings. Yoga then becomes a shift from simply learning to stand on your head to discovering how to stand mindfully on your two feet.

The first two limbs are the yamas and niyamas, the ethical foundations of yoga. "Yama" means to control or restrain, and relates to our interactions with others. There are five yamas: satya- living truthfully, ahimsa- non-harming, asteya- non-stealing, bramacharya- self-control, and aparigraha- non-greediness, recognizing that happiness does not come from outside yourself.

The third limb, asana, moves the practice into the physical body. According to Patanjali, steady and comfortable asana prepares the self for relaxed and steady breath, sensory withdrawal and meditation. The third limb is what most Westerners would understand as the form and practice of yoga.
Pratyahara, the fifth limb occurs when we direct our attention inward and away from external stimulation. Every nuance of breath, posture and physical sensation becomes an invitation to self-discovery. This transitional limb of yoga links the external, physical limbs with the more subtle, internal realities.
The niyamas are observances we can practice towards ourselves; shaucha- cleanliness of body and purity of thought, santosha- contentment, tapas- discipline, literally "fire" which burns away mental and physical impurities. Svadyaha is self-knowledge through study, and ishvara pranidhana- alignment with spirit. Practice of the niyamas develops peaceful, even assurance and self worth.
The fourth limb, pranayama, refers to yogic breathing techniques used to absorb and conserve energy or prana. Shankara (India, 7th century) described pranayama: "Emptying the mind of the whole of its illusion is the true rechaka (exhalation). The realization that "I am Atman" (the infinite spirit) is the true puraka (inhalation). Finally the steady sustenance of the mind on this conviction is the true kumbhaka (retention). This is the true Pranayama."
Dhyana is the seventh limb of classical yoga. It is a refinement of mental control through continued direction of thought and attention. Also described as meditation, it occurs when you steadily and effortlessy maintain this single-minded intention. Patanjali begins his description of yoga this way; as a settling or constraint of the fluctuations of the thought waves of the mind. "Yoga citta vritti nirodha."
ore than 2000 years ago an Indian sage, Patanjali described a method for the practice of yoga, and presented the earliest study of the human psyche. His Yoga Sutra collected the oral traditions and teachings into a practical system of self-improvement.
The final limb of Patanjali's yoga system is samadhi, and is beyond description, (which requires the mind for interpretation), and can only be experienced. In this space all differences cease to exist and self and other-than-self become one. Our practice reveals the wholeness of which we are an individual expression. This is the key to living a life of peace and contentment.

ri Tirumala Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) was an influential Indian teacher, healer and scholar. His students included many of today’s most respected teachers: BKS Iyengar, SK Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, and his sons; TKV Desikachar and TK Sribhashyam.

His yogic foundation was a strong asana practice and a scholar's grasp of the sacred teachings and Vedas. As a young man he was known as a fierce and uncompromising master. He also studied Ayurveda, the ancient healing art of India, and in later life was willing to adapt his methods for the health and needs of the individual. He insisted that he was a "student" his entire life, because he was always studying, exploring and experimenting with the practice.
In Mysore was reportedly discoverd a system of yoga recorded by Vamana Rishi, the Yoga Korunta. Supposedly written on palm leaves, the ancient manuscript was "said to contain lists of many different groupings of asanas, as well as highly original teachings on vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosophy." The text of
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and continuous practice, abhyasa, helps to develop the stamina to remain steadfast despite the habitual unfocused restlessness or fluctuations of our "monkey" minds.
In seeking to become self-aware, the restlessness of the mind distracts us. Dharana, or concentration, is the sustained effort required to remain focused on the task at hand. Consistent
the Yoga Korunta was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900's by his guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and later passed down to Pattabhi Jois in Mysore during the time of Jois's studies with wis guru, Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.
The body becomes light, strong and flexible and the mind relaxed and steady, allowing insight and clarity to arise naturally. Interestingly, ashtanga vinyasa yoga shifts the teaching (and the learning), to the student through consistent practice and compassionate self-observation.
The first two limbs, the yamas and niyamas define an ethical foundation showing us how to live in relationship both with ourselves and with others. There are two limbs to describe the physical practice of asanas and pranayama, (breath control), and three limbs to define the mental conditioning necessary to achieve humankind’s highest potential as a state of wholeness, of liberation known as samadhi.
His method is known as the Eight-Limbed Path, or Classical Ashtanga Yoga. Patanjali's work is a concise instruction manual for our physical, emotional and spiritual evolution. For Patanjali, yoga is a practice which will lead to liberation from the tyranny of our limited ego-driven minds, and then reveal an oceanic, boundless "Self" which is both our birthright and highest attainment.