About yoga

One of yoga's major influences was a great sage, Patanjali. His writings are recorded in what are called the "Sutras of Patanjali". Yoga is much more than just a set of physical postures and breathing exercises. In fact, that is only a part of it. His aim was to find a way for people to reach higher stages of consciousness and understand the nature of the world, and so he developed his system. Others followed his system over the centuries and adapted it slightly and so various schools of yoga developed, each emphasising a particular aspect of yoga as the most important.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga devised by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009). This method of yoga involves synchronising the breath with a progressive series of postures—a process producing intense internal heat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. 

It is one of the most challenging forms of yoga. All newcomers begin with the Primary Series or Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy) and gradually develop and deepen their practice. There are 6 "levels" in total, each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asana (postures) should be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.

What are the benefits of practising Ashtanga Yoga?

Physically, it will make you stronger and more toned. Flexibility, stamina and endurance will also come in time. It helps build muscle, but gives you toned, longer muscles rather than bulky ones, so ideal for strengthening the body while remaining lean. Practice purifies the nervous system. Mentally, it calms and focuses the mind and also disciplines it. The mind becomes lucid, clear and precise.

A personal word about yoga

One big lesson I have learned from the practice of yoga is patience. In today’s world, where people want results now, yoga teaches us just the opposite. Results will only happen with consistent effort. There is real growth in students when challenges and difficulties arise.

Cultivate patience

Learn from the tortoise. Cultivate the patience to move forward steadily, no matter how slow your progress. Remember as well that the benefits of hatha yoga go beyond getting stronger and more flexible, and that if you are monitoring only that realm, you may be disappointed. For any kind of beneficial result you have to be patient. The main culprit is thinking that you should be able to accomplish something without making consistent effort. That attitude has two unfortunate side effects: first, it diverts your attention from the work before you to what you believe you are entitled to; and second, it makes it impossible to learn and appreciate what is taking place this minute. So resolve to practice being with your experience in the present moment, enjoy yourself no matter what, and let go of expectations.