Yoga Styles - Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
The main difference of this style of Yoga to other styles is the focus on vinyasa, literally the intelligent putting together of things but taken in this style of asana practice as a variant of suryanamaska practised between asana. The student moves into and out of each asana in a well-defined set of movements, called Suryanamaskara or Sun-Salutation, which are combined with specific breathing patterns (ujjayi breathing). The purpose of vinyasa is to create heat in the body, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating. It also improves flexibility, which allows the student to practice advanced asanas without risk of injury.
Other components of Ashtanga Yoga include bandhas (internal locks) and drishti (gaze).
There are six series altogether. Practice begins with a set number of Sun-Salutations and standing poses, then the student moves to either the Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, B, C, or D, depending on his or her skill level, and closes his practice with a group of finishing poses. Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in Mysore style (supervised self practice). Each student moves through their practice at his or her own pace and level.
There are three bandhas, or internal body locks, prescribed in the different postures. The banda is a sustained contraction of a group of muscles that assists the practitioner not only in retaining a pose but also in moving in and out of it. The mula bandha, or root lock, is performed by tightening the muscles around the pelvic and perineum area. The udiyana bandha, often described as bringing the navel to the base of the spine, is a contraction of the muscles of the lower abdominal area. Jalandhara bandha, throat lock, is achieved by bringing the chin to rest on the torso and bringing the gaze down.
There are nine drishtis that instruct the yoga student in directing his or her gaze. Each pose is associated with a particular drishti. They are:
- Angusta ma dyai: to the thumb
- Broomadhya: to the third eye, or between the eyebrows
- Nasagrai: at a point six inches from the tip of the nose
- Hastagrai: to the palm, usually the extended hand
- Parsva: to the left side
- Parsva: to the right side
- Urdhva: to the sky, or inwards
- Nabichakra: to the navel
- Padayoragrai: to the toes
The Ashtanga practice is traditionally started with the following Sanskrit mantra:
vande gurunam sharanaravinde sandarshita svatma sukhava bodhe nih shreyase jangalikayamane samsara halahala mohasantyai abahu purusharakam sankhashakrasi dharinam shahasra shirsam svetam pranamami patanjalim
and closes with the mangala mantra:
svasti prajabyah paripalayantam nyayena margena mahim mahishah gobrahmanebyah shubamashtu nityam lokasamasta sukhinobavantu
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga".