What is Ashtanga?
Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’ and is described by the great Indian sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, written 2,300 years ago, as the 8-step path to true yoga (union of body, mind & soul).The third step, ASANA (postures), is the foundation that purifies body and mind.
By practicing correct Vinyasa (breathing movement system), the body produces an intense internal heat and purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body and a calm mind.
The powerful results have inspired Ashtanga communities to grow in most major cities as well as small cities around the world. Media attention has helped through endorsements from practitioners like Madonna, Sting, Gwyneth Paltrow and Willem DaFoe.
Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
K Pattabhi Jois, affectionately known to his students as “Guruji”, began practicing yoga in 1927 at the age of twelve with the great yoga master T. Krishnamacharya. At the age of 15, Guruji ran away from home to continue his studies with Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India. In 1937, Guruji was granted a position as a yoga teacher at the Sanskrit College by the Maharajah of Mysore. Guruji continued to teach at the Mysore Sanskrit College until his retirement in 1973.
With the intention of exploring the curative powers of yoga, Guruji opened the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at his home in Lakshmipuram in 1948. Over the years, Guruji successfully treated cases of diabetes, asthma, polio, heart disease and even leprosy with yoga therapy.
In the early 1970’s, the first western students began to arrive in Mysore to study with Guruji in his small yoga shala. One of these students, David Williams, invited Guruji to Encintas, California in 1975. He made fifteen subsequent trips to the U.S. over the next thirty years as ashtanga yoga evolved from a little known counterculture activity to a popular practice done by thousands of people all over the world.
Guruji taught yoga with great passion, joy, humor and wisdom for 70 years, retiring due to ill health in 2007, two years before his passing. He was, without a doubt, one of the most knowledgeable and influential yoga teachers of the last century. His teaching has inspired and influenced the way yoga is taught and practiced all over the world.