Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of hatha yoga made popular by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, South India, (1915-2009).
Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga said to be derived from an ancient manuscript called the Yoga Korunta. The text of the Yoga Korunta was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900s. Later, he passed it on to his student Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Jois used those teachings as the basis for what is now known as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He began teaching the practice in 1948.
The Ashtanga method is comprised of six series of postures. There is a primary series, an intermediate, and four advanced series. All of the series are taught sequentially. Traditionally, it is taught in a “Mysore” style. The students practice at an individual pace while being supervised and adjusted by the teacher. The student progresses onto new postures when they are ready.
“Mysore” takes its name from the city in south India that was home to the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois. Also located in Mysore, is The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. There, Jois’s daughter, Saraswathi, and grandson, Sharath, continue to offer classes and instruction.
These days, particularly in the west, led classes are also common. In a led class, the teacher leads a group of students through the traditional sequence of postures together. In this format, students are moving and breathing in unison.
The term “Vinyasa” refers to the alignment of movement and breath. Additionally, it is used to describe a series of movements used to link each asana (posture) in a series. The asana system is a moving meditation with the transition between each pose being as important as the postures themselves. Also central to the practice is Ujjayi (victorious) breath. This deep audible, breath helps the student to keep the attention on the breath.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the source of most all vinyasa styles of yoga that are popular in the west today.