It’s a s vigorous practice which invites students to move through Sun Salutations and set sequence of postures linked by specific breathing method while each posture prepares for the next one.
Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath.
The combination of the asanas with movement and breath make the blood circulate freely around all the joints, taking away body pains.
Regular practice develops concentration, strength, flexibility and balance and eventually leads the student to a healthy body and mind.
R.Sharath Jois is the current director of the Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore (KPJAYI) and he continues to teach according to the original method that he was taught by his grandfather, Sri Pattabhi Jois.
Tristhana: This means the three places of attention or action: posture, breathing system and looking place. They are very important for yoga practice, and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other.
Asanas purify, strengthen and give flexibility to the body. Breathing is rechaka and puraka, that means inhale and exhale. Both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even, the length of the inhale should be the same length as the exhale. Breathing in this manner purifies the nervous system. Dristhi is the place where you look while in the asana. There are nine dristhis: the nose, between the eyebrows, navel, thumb, hands, feet, up, right side and left side. Dristhi purifies and stabilizes the functioning of the mind.
For cleaning the body internally two factors are necessary, air and fire.
An important component of the breathing system is mula and uddiyana bandha. These are the anal and lower abdominal locks which seal in energy, give lightness, strength and health to the body, and help to build a strong internal fire.
The six poisons: A vital aspect of internal purification that Pattabhi Jois teaches relates to the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart. In the yoga shastra it is said that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons: kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya, and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons, and the light of our inner nature shines forth.
This forms the practical and philosophic basis of Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Learning yoga in this traditional method benefits the student on many levels. Through daily practice of Ashtanga yoga the student gain independence and confidence in the sadhana practice (spiritual practice).
Source: KPJAYI website