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Ashtanga Yoga



Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic yoga style, although it arrived in the West in the 1970s, it finds its origins in more remote periods.

Its origins are not entirely clear, the father of this style of yoga was Master Sri K.Pattabhi Jois, who brought to light a style of yoga from ancient traditions.

Pattabhi Jois popularized Ashtanga Yoga, and codified it into 6 sequences of increasing difficulty (primary, intermediate, advanced A,B,C); he was responsible for training the most internationally renowned teachers.

All the teachings that have come to us from Pattabhi Jois derive from his teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who in his teachings brought to light a very ancient style of yoga, whose therapeutic effects determined its spread like wildfire throughout the world.

Pattabhi Jois developed the discipline and founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore in 1948. Westerners began studying with him in the 1960s and 1970s, as yoga became more popular in the West. Since the death of K. Pattabhi Jois in 2009, his nephew Sharath Rangaswamy has taken over the role of director of the AYRI in Mysore.

Knowing the origins allows us to understand the sacredness of this practice, which although nowadays is emphasized as the most gymnastic practice, is a therapeutic practice that allows the body to clean itself and balance itself, becoming the ideal place for the flourishing of an awake and serene, free from anxieties and disturbances. A practice suitable and adaptable to everyone, which gives well-being to the body and mind, a practice where the only protagonist is the practitioner with his breathing.



Tri=3; sthana = fixed points is the method on which the whole practice is based.

There are 3 fixed points to consider during practice:straight asana and breathing.

These points must always be observed and practiced while practicing asanas.

Breath: it must be carried out only from the nose; “breathing from the mouth weakens the heart”; inhalation and exhalation must have the same length; there must be no interruptions between one breath and another, which will take on a deep sound from the base of the throat. A long, deep breath activates the digestive system, it will lighten upagni, the digestive fire that burns in the lower abdomen and which will rid our body of toxins.

Asanas: the postures must be done methodically and with the right alignment, under the guidance of a master, according to the method ofparampara, direct transmission from teacher to student.

Dristi: “where the gaze goes the body directs”, the dristi is precisely the direction that the gaze takes during the asanas and is fundamental for increasing concentration during practice, it helps to align the body towards the right direction, it stops the mind allowing you to embark on the inner journey.


The Bandhas, which in Sanskrit mean "closure" are indispensable elements of the practice and are activated with the breath.

The main bandhas, used both during vinyasa and while holding asanas, are located at the level of the pelvic floor and in the lower abdomen and have the function of sealing energy, giving lightness, strength and health to the body and helping to build a strong internal fire.

Mula bandha- Mula meansrootand is positioned in the pelvic area. It is a contraction of all the muscles in this region (anus and perineum).

Uddyana Bandha- Uddyana meansascending path. It is located in the lower abdomen. Uddyana bandha is held throughout the practice, and is intensified most during the inhalation.

Jalandhara bandha- activated by contraction of the neck area and is performed by pressing the chin towards the chest. This bandha is used in some postures of the practice and when performing pranayama.



Vinyasa means system of breathing and movement.

For every movement, there is a breath.
The purpose of the practice is to internally cleanse the body of physical and emotional impurities, which have accumulated in our body over time, determining its current state.

Breathing combined with movement, during the execution of asanas according to the vinyasa method, creates a rise in the core temperature, causing "the blood to boil" (cit.Pattabhi Jois), and toxins to be burned; it turns onagni, which will burn away the impurities that bind our current state.

 Thick blood is dirty and causes disease in the body. The heat created by yoga cleans the blood and thins it, so that it can circulate freely around the joints, eliminating body pain. The heated blood also moves through all the internal organs, removing diseases and impurities, which are carried out of the body through sweat; sweating during practice is a sign that the purification process has been triggered.
Sweat is important, because it is only through sweat that disease leaves the body and purification occurs. If the vinyasa method is followed, the body becomes healthy and strong and pure like gold. After the body has been purified, the nervous system and sense organs can be purified.
Constant practice (6 days out of 7) will lead to control of the mind and senses and greater cleanliness of the body, keeping laziness away, increasing willpower, making the mind more clear and active.


The six poisons: One vital aspect of internal purification that Pattabhi Jois touches on concerns the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart. Yoga shastra says that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons: kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated by it burns away these poisons and the light of our inner nature shines.


The classes

ThereMysore class, refers to the way of practicing ashtanga in Mysore, the capital of this style of yoga.

The Mysore class is a "free" class open to all levels of practitioners, also suitable for beginners, as long as they notify the teacher in advance.

During the class, which has a maximum entry time, the student is free to arrive and will practice at his own pace; the teacher will help him with corrections and adjustments.

It can be understood as a private lesson given in a group context.

It is the traditional method for learning the sequence of practice, therefore suitable for both experienced practitioners and those just starting out, it is the way this style is taught in Mysore.

The guided class it is the class that takes place following the traditional counting in Sanskrit, so you learn the right vinyasa, "cleaning" the practice from extra breaths mistakenly acquired during the Mysore practice, especially useful for those who, already knowing the sequence, want to improve their flow of breath during practice.

The led class for beginners, also guided in Sanskrit, has slower and more didactic times, as it is especially suitable for beginners, it allows you to learn the sequence, and it is the class for those who are not comfortable following the Mysore.

In the training course it is advisable for beginners to practice one guided class per week and on the other days to put into practice, in the Mysore class, what was learned during the guided class.

Once the student begins to master the practice, following the guided classes will allow him to go deeper into the practice by learning the correct vinyasa, which guarantees a powerful flow of energy allowing the goals of the practice to be achieved.


The Mantras of practice

The practice of Ashtanga begins and ends with the reciting of an initial and final mantra (prayer).

Let's prepare our mind for the practice and its sacredness, let's dedicate the practice to the supreme Guru, our inner Guru who will guide us, training the body with the asanas, to discover the self.

The ritual of the initial mantra allows us to focus on the practice, closing the outside world off the mat and remaining present in the practice.

The final mantra has the power to seal what has happened in practice, and dedicate the energies produced internally to more noble purposes.

The mantras are chanted during the Guided Class at the beginning and end of the practice, the teacher will recite a verse and the students will repeat it; while during the Mysore class, the student will begin his practice by silently reciting the mantras at the beginning and end of the practice, then at the opening of the Mysore class the teacher will be able to call the practitioners, who will interrupt their practice, to recite the initial mantra together .

If at first you may feel a little embarrassed in saying the mantra, over time you will appreciate its benefits.

Mantras are prayers in Sanskrit whose vocalizations have an energetic echo within our body, in the practice of Ashtanga the chanting of mantras has an important role, in fact it does not  at random, ad hoc sessions are dedicated to learning their vocalization. 

Initial mantra


vande gurūnāṃ caraṇāravinde sandarśita-svātma-sukhāvabodhe |
niḥśreyase jāṅgalikāyamāne saṃsāra-hālāhala-moha-śāntyai ||
ābāhu-puruṣākāraṃ śaṅkha-cakrāsi-dhāriṇam |
sahasra-śirasaṃ śvetaṃ praṇamāmi patañjalim ||

I bow at the feet of the Supreme Guru

which teaches the way to know the great happiness of self-realization of the self,

like a jungle healer he eliminates illusion

and the poison of ignorance of samsara (conditioned existence) 

from the upper part of the body of human appearance,

he carries with him a shell (the divine sound), a disc (infinite time) and a sword (discrimination).

Final mantra

svasti prajābhyaḥ paripālayantāṃ nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṃ mahīśāḥ |
go-brāhmanebhyaḥ śubham astu nityaṃ lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu ||
Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ |

Possa la prosperità essere glorificata,
possano gli amministratori governare il mondo secondo legge e giustizia,
possano tutte le cose sacre essere protette,possano gli esseri di ogni luogo essere felici e vivere in prosperità.
Om, pace, pace, pace.

Yoga Chikitsa 

Yoga Chikitsa is the Sanskrit name of the first series of Ashtanga; its meaning in Sanskrit indicates therapeutic yoga (chikitsa means "therapy") and its function is to detoxify and purify the body, make it strong and resistant and produce a certain degree of looseness in the joints and elasticity of the body tissue. It forms the basis for further levels of practice as it prepares the body in flexibility and strength, and allows you to master the vinyasa methodology.

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Lunar calendar 

Those who are not familiar with Ashtanga will ask themselves "now what does the lunar calendar have to do with it?".... tradition dictates that during the days of the full moon and new moon the Ashtanga practitioner must abstain from the practice. But let's start by defining the ashtanga practitioner... this is defined as someone who carries out his practice every day either within his own home (as often happens to us teachers) or as best suits him to progress in a healthy way in the practice, every day in class with your teacher, therefore 6 days a week, dedicating Sunday to rest and abstaining for the "Moon Days"; furthermore, women are required to pay greater attention during the menstrual cycle. But let's see why we should abstain for the days of the Moon.

It is believed that during the days of the moon, given the influence this has on the earth's fluids, the body could be affected, therefore the practitioner could be more exposed to injuries or discomfort during practice; another interpretation that could be more likely is that since Pj belonged to the Bhramini caste and had notable fulfilments in the temple during the moon days, the shala was closed to students on those days. In any case it is good to use tradition with common sense and respect, if you practice every day 6/7 respecting the moon days is also an act of respect for tradition, but if you can only practice a few times a week and maybe you are also a woman then evaluate whether that lunar day is right to respect or not. I usually advise my students to look at the lunar calendar of the month beforehand so that they can organize themselves and still try to repeat the tradition.

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