The practice of yoga asana, or postures, is one of the eight limbs of traditional Ashtanga yoga. At the Yoga Workshop we practice and teach the flowing form of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, in which postures are practice in a continuous flowing sequence, strung together on the thread of the breath. We study closely the internal forms of the practice — the breath, gaze, mudra (joining together) and bandha (holding in concentration) — that allow for a strong and meditative practice to spontaneously arise.
In Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga there are seven series of postures, each designed to balance and fortify specific areas of the body and mind. Each series begins with the same standing postures and finishes with the same sequence of postures at the end. For each series different postures specific to the teaching of the series are sandwiched between standing and finishing postures. All postures are linked together through the breath into a continuous flow or sequence (Vinyasa) of movements.
Through studying traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga students gradually cultivate a "self" practice, or the intention and ability to develop a fully focused yoga asana practice that can be followed in solitude or in the setting of a Mysore style class, and that is specific to their needs for balance and radiant health.
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga has become known for its intensity and rigor because the flowing form allows students to work “on their edge”. It demands concentration of mind which causes internal heat (tapas) to arise in the body which can cause sweating.
Also, intermediate and advanced Ashtanga Vinyasa practice may include extreme postures, such as very deep backbends, and contorted looking poses, such as the eka pada family (postures where the leg is put behind the head). For this reason many who are new to yoga mistake Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga as a hard core, jock-only, ego building, competitive sport where the slogan, “no pain, no gain” must apply.
At the Yoga Workshop we work deliberately and consistently to draw students into the internal forms that lie along the central channel of the body, allowing the mind and ego to be released as the asana deepens. This results in a practice that is safe, healing, and appropriate for each individual’s body and life circumstance.
All classes at the Yoga Workshop ground students in these internal forms and alignment based on the Primary, Intermediate and Advanced series of postures taught in Mysore, India by K. Pattabhi Jois. The continuous linking of the postures with the movement of the breath balances structural and mental patterns resulting in strength, flexibility and radiant health. The practice then spontaneously awakens the central axis of the body bringing the mind into deep meditation.