LIKE IYENGAR YOGA, ASHTANGA YOGA IS EMBODIED BY A MAN
WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY DESTINY:
NOTHING SEEMED TO FOREORDAIN HIM
TO BECOME AN ESSENTIAL FIGURE
IN THE HISTORY OF YOGA.
When he was 12 years old, he heard a lecture by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
The young Pattabhi Jois felt transported and decided to become his disciple the very next day.
T. Krishnamacharya was the founding father of modern Yoga.
He was also a great source of inspiration for B.K.S. Iyengar.
No one in Pattabhi Jois’ family practiced Yoga, so he decided to keep it secret.
In 1930, he left his family to study Sanskrit. In 1932, he joined his guru in Mysore,
a city he never left since.
There, he founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute.
Like B.K.S. Iyengar, he taught Yoga until the last days of his life, in 2009.
The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute attracted celebrities from all over the world.
Its popularity among Westerners, and mainly Americans, has strongly contributed
to its growth and worldwide expansion.
Nevertheless, for me, its “success” lies elsewhere.
The fact that a large number of Yogis adopted Pattabhi Jois’ method, Ashtanga Yoga,
is surely due to its subtlety, transforming the body into a tool for exercises,
linking the soul, the body and the mind.
Ashtanga Yoga comes from the terms “Ashta” which in Sanskrit means “Eight”,
“Anga” means “Branches” and “Yoga” means “Union”.
Together, these 3 words translate into the concept of “The Eight Limbs of Yoga”.
They are listed in the texts as follows:
yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control),
pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation)
and samadhi (absorption, union, integration).
There are 6 series of postures, including 50 postures in all.
The 6 sequences are progressive,
from the simplest to the most complex.
They are always identical and performed in the same order.
Each posture is linked to another by a transition during which
each movement is synchronized by a breath (Vinyasa).
Breathing is the core of the Ashtanga Yoga practice.
“Ujjayî” is a breathing technique
which purpose is to synchronize the postures
by inhalations and exhalations through the nose only.
The contraction of the throat controls the air in and out,
in order to obtain an equal duration for inhalation and exhalation.
The practice of “Ujjayî” produces a sound
similar to the buzz of a bee.
According to Indian wisdom, the eyes are the doors of the mind.
If they are fixed, the mind remains fixed, which favours the concentration in order to perform the Asanas properly.
Eye exercises specific to Ashtanga Yoga (Drishtis),
consist of determining points for the eyes to focus on
(usually a part of the body)
to bring the mind to calm down and to channel vital energy.
The correct application of drishti leads the body
to be well aligned in each position.
“Practise,and everything will follow”.