Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga recorded by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript” said to contain lists of many different groupings of asanas, as well as highly original teachings on vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosophy”.

Ashtanga yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga,” 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:

  • Yama [moral codes]
  • Niyama [self-purification and study]
  • Asana [posture]
  • Pranayama [breath control]
  • Pratyahara [sense control]
  • Dharana [concentration]
  • Dhyana [meditation]
  • Samadhi [absorption into the Universal]

Practicing asana for many years with correct vinyasa gives the student the clarity of mind, steadiness of body, and purification of the nervous system to begin the prescribed pranayama practice. “Through the practice of pranayama, the mind becomes arrested in a single direction and follows the movement of the breath”. Pranayama forms the foundation for the internal cleansing practices of Ashtanga yoga.