Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established an institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga Yoga.
Ashtanga yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga” in Sanskrit as outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali, the path of internal purification for revealing the Universal Self consists of the following eight spiritual practices:
Vinyasa yoga is one of the most commonly practised styles in the West. Sometimes referred to as “flow” yoga, the classes usually focus on breathing and movement which is almost dance-like.
The term ‘vinyasa‘ refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static yoga postures into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between postures. Poses are then held for a predefined number of breaths. In effect, attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the postures rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in a pose, as is emphasized in Hatha yoga. This method of synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures produces intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.
‘Vinyasa’ also refers to a specific series of movements that are frequently done between each pose in a series. This vinyasa ‘flow’ is a variant of Sūrya namaskāra, the Sun Salutation, and is used in other styles of yoga beside Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.