Ashtanga Vinyasa is a dynamic method of yoga that is characterized by its flowing sequence and four core techniques. The result is a cleansing and purifying effect on the body and mind.
The four core techniques — flowing connecting postures, specialized breathing, muscle locks and gazing points — are what make Ashtanga Vinyasa unique. When applied during the practice these techniques produce an intense internal heat and a purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs and calms the mind.
The four core techniques:
Vinyasa - “Get into the Flow”
The Ashtanga Vinyasa method revolves around the artful and dynamic vinyasa, a unique series of movements that link one posture to the next in a graceful flow. Each movement is synchronized with the breath.
The primary benefit of the vinyasa is that it warms the muscles and joints, allowing them to move more freely. The blood is warmed and this produces a purifying sweat. The sweat generated then carries impurities out of the body. Physically, the body becomes healthy, light and strong.
Ujjayi Breathing – “The Hissing Breath”
Ujjayi is a specialized breathing technique that helps the practitioner breathe smoothly and rhythmically while performing the postures in the sequence. This enhances one’s endurance by allowing more oxygen to enter the lungs and penetrate into the blood. It also assists in generating heat in the body. When combined with the other techniques, it has a detoxifying effect.
The soft and steady sound of the breath also pulls the mind inward and keeps the practitioner focused. One can imagine the soft hissing sound as wind in the trees or the surf of the ocean.
Bandhas – “Muscle Locks”
The bandhas are internal muscle locks that regulate and direct the flow of energy. The physiological benefits are increased physical strength, improved muscular control and support to the spine. Fully engaging the bandhas during practice can instantly make you feel lighter and stronger, even making challenging postures seem manageable.
Drishti – “Gazing Point”
This refers to the direction you look while performing a posture. This helps keep the mind focused and concentrated during the practice. It also aids in keeping you steady in balancing postures.