Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

zen downward facing dog

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, usually referred to simply as Ashtanga Yoga, is a sequence for postures (asana) linked together by breath and movement. To perform asana correctly in Ashtanga Yoga, one must incorporate the use of vinyasa and tristhana. Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. One breath, one movement! In this way all asanas are assigned a certain number of vinyasas. The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing. Synchronizing breathing and movement in the asanas heats the blood, making it clean and thin so that it may circulate more freely. Improved blood circulation relieves joint pain and removes toxins and disease from the internal organs. The sweat generated from the heat of vinyasa then carries the impurities out of the body. Through the use of vinyasa, the body becomes healthy, light and strong.

Ashtanga Yoga literally means 'eight-limbs' 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:

  1. Yama - how to act in the environment, with other people and beings
  2. Niyama - self care
  3. Asana - postures
  4. Pranayama - control of breath
  5. Pratyahara - going inward
  6. Dharana - focus
  7. Dhyana - meditation
  8. Samadhi - oneness

According to Pattabhi Jois, a person must first take up daily asana practice to make the body strong and healthy. With the body and sense organs thus stabilized, the mind can be steady and controlled. With mind control, one is then able to pursue and grasp the other limbs.

Benefits of the practice

  • builds strength
  • improves flexibility
  • develops muscle tone
  • promotes detoxification
  • increases energy & vitality
  • relieves back pain & injuries
  • improves digestion & circulation 
  • lubricates joints, tendons & ligaments
  • calms the mind
  • reduces stress, tension & anxiety
  • improves concentration & memory
  • promotes better quality sleep
  • improves lung capacity
  • lower blood sugar
  • boosts brain function
  • inner peace & happiness


If you're keen on trying out this yoga practice, check out my schedule.