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”. The text of the Yoga Korunta “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 duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya’s students included many of yoga’s most renowned teachers: Indra Devi (1899–2002); K. Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009); B. K. S. Iyengar (1918-2014); his son T. K. V. Desikachar (1938-2016).
Ashtanga yoga means eight limbed yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
The main components of asana practice are vinyasa (Chaturanga, upward dog pose and downward dog pose), tristhana: three places breathing system (ujjayi breath), gazing point (drishti)). Bandhas: Jaladhara banda, mula and udiyana bandhas (chin, anal and lower abdominal locks). In Ashtanga yoga, asana is grouped into six series. “The Primary Series [Yoga Chikitsa] detoxifies and aligns the body. The Intermediate Series [Nadi Shodhana] purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D [Sthira Bhaga] integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility