What is Astanga Vinyasa Yoga?


The Astanga Yoga system is a living lineage that comes directly to us through many years of traditional teaching in ancient India and into the present. Developed by TKV Krishnamacharya and his student Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, this system was said to be derived from an ancient Indian text, the Yoga Kurunta, written by Vamana Rishi. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900's by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the 26 years of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.

Krishnamacharya is one of the world's most legendary masters of yoga. He was initiated into the science of Yoga by his Guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Pattabhi Jois, or Guruji, as he was affectionately called by his students, continued the lineage of these teachings uninterruptedly until the day he passed, at age 93. His grandson R. Sharath Jois continues now the direct lineage of teachings, welcoming students from around the world to practice in their family house in Mysore, India.

Even if the connections may not be so evident at the first sight, the Astanga Yoga system taught by Pattabhi Jois, is the yoga of Patanjali, which makes the Yoga Sutras the text of prime importance for this school. With practice, it becomes more and more evident how this ‘gymnastic-looking’ practice fully embodies the 8 limbs of Astanga, with a particular emphasis on the central limbs of asana, pranayama and pratyahara.


To use Guruji’s analogy to a garland, the Astanga Vinyasa system can be described as a yoga mala: the body is used as a mantra, the postures represents beads, and the breath (together with bandhas) forms the string that holds the beads together to create a garland of yoga postures. The system is designed to work as a movement meditation, where the transitions from each posture to the next are as important as the postures themselves.



The traditional way to learn Astanga Vinyasa Yoga is through classes called "Mysore style", where a student learns the sequences gradually and practices them under the supervision of the teacher. Because there are no ‘class instructions’, each student receives a personalized guidance from the teacher, so that the practice is learnt slowly and progressively, virtually one posture at a time, in respect of each individual’s uniqueness.

Experience of many teachers and practitioners of Astanga Vinyasa Yoga proves it to be a very effective method of establishing serious, regular and dedicated practice. This manifests due to the fact that you are doing it by yourself while being helped and guided. This way your practice always stays with you. As you do not merely repeat what the teacher shows you, but know exactly what to do by yourself.

It is traditional to practice daily, 6 times a week, with Saturdays being the days of rest. The tradition also respects the days of new moon and full moon as no practice, and for women also the days of their menstrual cycle (or at least the first few days).