At Yoga Sheffield our main focus of the classes is Ashtanga for all level of practitioner.
Ashtanga, is a dynamicly sequence orientated yoga helps build strength, stamina and flexibility. We use the yoga breath (ujjayi) to make the postures (asanas) in to a flowing meditation making yoga and ideal way to keep fit and also reduce stress levels!
* It is a set series of challenging postures that, once learned, allows students to establish their own yoga practice (commonly called self practice or mysore);
* The practice combines asana (exercise), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense control) and dharana (concentration);
* Ashtanga is a flowing practice that allows students to utilise the bodies inner agni (fire) to move deeper in to postures;
* Whilst Ashtanga can be practiced by all, like any discipline, it requires dedication and patience;
* The classes we teach involve hands-on adjustment and assistance in asanas, whilst postures may be demonstrated, our aim is to teach, observe, correct and assist students, not practice along side them.
I enjoy Ashtanga as it offers a series of postures that is easy to follow and has allowed me to develop my own regular practice. The postures are challenging but there is a satisfaction to deepening your own practice and making progress in a posture.
This I find very rewarding.
At the end of my practice I feel uplifted whilst having a real sense of calmness of my mind.
I believe that Ashtanga Yoga can be practiced by anyone and that the key for everyone's enjoyment is to find a level of practice that you can work with and develop at your own pace.
Yoga is a philosophy of life, which also has the potential to create a vibrantly healthy body and mind.
Ashtanga Yoga, practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscovering his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness—physical, psychological, and spiritual. Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (driste), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of our selves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.
"Ashtanga" literally means eight limbs. They are described by Patanjali as: Yama (abstinences) Niyama (observances) Asana (postures) Pranayama (breath control) Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) Dharana (concentration) Dhyana (meditation) Samadhi (contemplation)
These branches support each other. Asana practice must be established for proper practice of pranayama and is a key to the development of the yamas and niyamas. Once these four externally oriented limbs are firmly rooted, the last four internally oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.
"Vinyasa" means breath-synchronized movement. The breath is the heart of this discipline and links asana to asana in a precise order. By synchronizing movement with breathing and practicing Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas (locks), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals, which can nourish the body when the sweat is massaged back into the skin. The breath regulates the vinyasa and ensures efficient circulation of blood. The result is a light, strong body.
There are three groups of sequences in the Ashtanga system. The Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body. The Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D (Sthira Bhaga) integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility.
Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asanas is to be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.
BREATH: The continuity of deep, even breathing cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga Yoga system. When breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise, and perfectly steady.
According to the teachings of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, "Breath is Life." Breathing is our most fundamental and vital act and holds a divine essence: exhalation a movement towards God, and inhalation an inspiration from God. Our last action in life is to exhale, which, in essence, is the final and total surrender to God.
PRACTICE: It is said that where there is no effort there is no benefit. Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspects of this traditional Yoga, seemingly contrary to Western perceptions of Yoga. This demanding practice requires considerable effort and taps into and circulates a vital energy throughout the body, strengthening and purifying the nervous system. The mind then becomes lucid, clear and precise; and according to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, "Wherever you look you will see God." Only through practice will we realize the truth of what our guru often says:
"Everything is God."
*********************** Please note the importance of learning the Ashtanga method only from a traditionally trained teacher. Only a qualified teacher can provide the necessary guidance to assure safe, steady progress without injury to body or mind!
Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute Yogasana Visharada Vedanta Vidwan Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Director R. Sharat, Assistant Director 876/1, 1st Cross, Lakshmipuram Mysore - 570004 Karnataka State, South India
In the classes that I teach I try to mix serious yoga with a little bit of humour! The practice starts with the sun salutes (A&B) and then we move into the asanas covering as many as possible in the time given.
I teach a variety of levels of classes from complete beginners to intermediate level and mysore for primary series students and offer sympathetic teaching to those practicing second series.