Thousands of students flock to the Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India each year in hopes of finding that missing piece to life's puzzle. The Institute's style of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is particularly attractive to Westerners because they enjoy the physical rigor and discipline. While many forms of yoga are more about relaxing, this style is more about physically challenging poses that evoke mental release. Some people say the method attracts the "overachiever" personality type, but in reality it caters to people of every level.
Philosophically, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga means "eight-limbed yoga" and was described by the sage Patanjali Maharishi in the Yoga Sutras. To reach internal purification, he speaks about the importance of moral codes, self-purification and study, posture, breath control, sense control, concentration, meditation and contemplation.
In the beginning of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a yoga instructor will help students master "external cleansing practices." They learn about morality and study, while practicing specific postures and breathing. Instructors help beginners find the correct positions and inspire students to live a just and moral existence. Next, after days of mastering the proper poses and gaining strength, students will learn to control their minds. Through posture, breathing and focusing, the practice purifies the body, nervous system and mind over time.
In practice, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga involves six specific postures (otherwise known as "asanas") that are always completed in the same order. In the opening asana, there are ten standing "Sun Salutations" or "The Primary Series," which is intended to align and detoxify the body. The "Intermediate Series" works on the nervous system by opening and clearing internal energy pathways. "The Advanced Series A, B, C and D" helps students achieve maximum flexibility, strength, definition and humility. Teachers emphasize the mastering of each level before moving on, with special focus and attention given to each step of progress.
The ujjayi (meaning "victorious breath") method of exhaling and inhaling, combined with the fluid, dynamic asanas, heats the blood and generates a detoxifying sweat, or what is known as "internal cleansing." Advanced methods of breathing techniques (bandhas) teach students how to "lock" or "seal" energy and redirect it to one of the 72,000 energy channels within the body. To obtain maximum benefit from the asanas, learning to lock in positive energy is crucial. Nine different focus points seek to purify and stabilize the mind, facilitating concentration.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga welcomes all different levels and allows individualized attention from a yoga teacher who wishes to help students master each posture (and corresponding breathing and focus) perfectly. Many beginners start with Hatha Yoga, but people who are serious about fitness and mental determination will love this life-affirming workout!
The world is a fantastic place filled with diversity and new discoveries at every turn. One of these discoveries for the Western world came in the form of Yoga. This ancient practice was known primarily in Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism but has since become a very popular form of exercise. It is more than that though. It is a process of centering the mind and body into one fluid machine that is highly aware of itself and surroundings. Yoga can be performed by anyone of any age and is great for those beginning their trek into a healthier lifestyle. If you are ready to begin your trek, click here for more information: Yoga Accessories and at Laughing Yoga also at Yoga Positions