About Ashtanga YogaSri K. Pattabhi Jois (known as Guruji) began teaching yoga in his early 20’s on instruction from his Guru Sri Tirumali Krishnamacharya. In the early 1970’s, the first Westerners stumbled across Guruji’s “Yoga Shala” (school), a small room at the back of his house in Mysore, India. At that time he taught the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Series in a style now referred to in the West as “Mysore-Style”. Primarily mysore-style had a focus on self practice where the student would learn the sequence of postures incrementally receiving guidance and adjustment on a daily basis. In the late 1970’s, Guruji’s first western students invited him to the U.S to teach their friends and students. From that time on, the word gradually spread about Ashtanga Yoga making it increasingly accessible and popular in the west. Consequently, more westerners travelled to Mysore to learn from Guruji in the small Shala where only 12 students could practice at any one time. As the number of foreigners grew the need for a new Shala became apparent, leaving Guruji and Sharath to build a new one which opened in 2001. Today led classes are held Sundays and Fridays whilst Mysore style is taught Monday to Thursday.
The Ashtanga Yoga System emphasises movement with breath. The breath is directed and focused into the upper body. The breath is performed in conjunction with the hold of the bandhas in the lower body. This provides the combined result of inner stability and release of tension in the outer body.
Sri K. Pattahbi Jois explains that “an important component of the breathing system is mula and uddiyana bandha. These are the anal and lower abdominal locks, which seal in energy, giving lightness, strength and health to the body, whilst helping to build a strong internal fire. Without bandhas, breathing will not be correct and asana of are of no benefit. When mula bandha is perfect, mind control is automatic”. (Guruji, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute)
The bandhas cultivate lightness in the practice as well as strength and flexibility in the body.
1.14 The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
In Sanskrit: Sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito drdha-bhumih
Translation: Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a long period of time.