WHAT IS ASHTANGA?
Ashtanga Yoga is a science and a practice which has evolved over thousands of years and like any true yoga, seeks to achieve a state of higher consciousness, well being, calmness and connection with oneself, and to the world in which we live. The term Ashtanga, which means «eight limbs» indicates that there are 8 components to achieve that state, and one of them, asana, is how we start in the West, hoping that as we reach deep into this limb, we will gradually begin to develop the other limbs. Asana is what is commonly known as «yoga”, and each pose must be coordinated with a calm, controlled breath.
The main distinction of Ashtanga Yoga over other variants is its unique movement and breathing system which is known as vinyasa. The combination of breath and movement, and the action of the postures, produces sweat. That sweat purifies the body, releasing the toxins retained within superficial layers of the body´s fat. As students deepen this practice, the toxins retained in the deeper layers of muscle tissue and internal organs are also released, which helps the body to stay healthy, toned and flexible. This has an immediate effect on the mental state. And that´s precisely the real goal of yoga, affecting and modifying the mental state.
The Ashtanga Yoga is helping many people around the world to balance the stress and the mental, physical, and spiritual pressures that we endure in the modern world in which we live. You can practice with any age and physical condition. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be flexible. By contrast, less flexible people are those who get more physical benefits.
Ashtanga Yoga is a practice which works with the capabilities and needs of each individual, when taught properly.
The yoga mantra is recited at the beginning and end of practice, in the original Sanskrit.
Mantras are subtle resonance structures and have wide powers of transformation, as the can turn negative into positive impulses, raising awareness through sound vibration. Is advisable to open and close the practice of yoga with a mantra, and those which appear at the bottom of this page are the traditional ones. Alternatively, reciting silently or loudly the syllable OM can also help the channelling of the energy of the body and focus the mind. Reciting the mantra in class is recommended but not required. If it makes you uncomfortable or it doesn’t make sense to you, you can just stay silent. The meaning of both mantras is about acknowledging and thanking the teachers who have given us this practice and also wishing prosperity, justice and peace in the world. Besides, it is nice to have a moment in the class where everyone does something together at once.