The purpose of practicing Yoga
Welcome to Ashtanga Yoga Sitges!
Yoga is a philosopy of life with the objective to find out who we are by healing body and mind. The practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is based on an ancient manuscript which is called Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, written about 2000 years ago. It contains 8 chapters (ashtau anga = 8 members) which guide the readers through their journey of self-knowledge in order to reach the perfect mind-body-soul balance.
Patanjali proposes a journey towards peace, where the movement and noise of the mind stops. Only then - through silence - we can observe ourselves in our natural and real state.
The Yoga Sutra is a user manual for the yoga practice which helps us to overcome obstacles and solve mental limits in order to reach Moksha - the liberation from slavery and attachment to the psychological mind, which is the origin of our suffering. The heart of Patanjalis philosophy is Ahimsa: Non-Violence. Never cause pain to yourself, to others and don't let anyone cause you pain. This is something we always keep in mind when practising on and off the yoga mat.
The Asana practice of Ashtanga is based on a Vinyasa System (Breath & Movement Coordination) which takes us from one posture to the next in a flowing and energetic sequence through rythmic breathing. Apart from the breathing we use Bandhas (energetic locks) and Dristhis (focussed gaze) in order to control our senses and concentrate on one thing what helps us to enter into a deep connection with our being, our source, our presence. We call it a moving meditation. Regular practice leads us to a calm mind and to a general state of wellbeing within our body. The physical work and breathing connects us with our body which lives here and now. Our head is far away from our feet and we spend most of our time living in our head, forget about our grounding, connection with nature, the overall body and the present moment. This is what causes us suffering.
Asana practice, combined with vinyasa produces heat inside the body which helps to eliminate physical, mental and emotional toxins and to remove them through sweat, so that we feel clean and light after finishing our practice. It's like removing the skin from an onion, or cleaning our glasses to see clear. This process supports the immune system and makes us stronger, more flexible on a body and mind level.
There is no age or specific physical condition to start the practice. All postures and movements can be adapted to the personal needs of the practitioner. You only need will, and be prepared to learn and enjoy.
Ashtanga Yoga according to Sri K. Patthabi Jois
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1917-2009) is the Master of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He taught and further developed the Ashtanga sequences as learned from his guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya in Mysore, a city in the south of India. Sri T. Krishnamacharya is the father/creator of modern Yoga and created the foundation of the major part of the current yoga styles.
At the end of the 60's and during the 70's American travellers started to arrive to Mysore: David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff, later David Swenson, Richard Freeman, Tim Miler, Danny Paradise, Tomas Zorzo (sorry to those I don't name), who nowadays are known as the most influential masters of Ashtanga Yoga.
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system is composed of three sequences: The primary series (Yoga Chikitsa = Yoga Therapy), which purifies and aligns the body and strengthens our immune system. Intermediate series (Nadi Shodhana), which purifies our nervous system through the unblocking and cleaning of energetic channels. And the Advanced Series (Sthira Bhaga) A,B,C and D, which integrates strength and tolerance, requiring high levels of flexibility and humility.
The order of the postures is being tought progressively to each student according to his/her own pace, capacity and interest. Each posture prepares us for the next one. That way we develop strength, flexibility and balance to move ahead in the sequence, always working on a breath/movement synchronisation.
During the practice we create heat in the body which helps to purify the muscles, organs and remove toxins from our system, generate hormones and beneficial minerals. The result is a strong and light body.
Normally we do not think in strength, endurance and sweat when we talk about yoga. However Ashtanga Yoga is a demanding system which makes life energy (Prana) flow through the whole body. This is the key for healing our body and achieving a clear, lucid and accurate mind.