About Ashtanga Astanga Yoga | South London | The Shala

.about ashtanga vinyasa yoga

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a moving meditation resulting in calmness and clarity. It maximizes body tone, detoxifies and increases all-round health, flexibility, strength and balance. The term 'ashtanga' translates as eight limbs, 'vinyasa' means breath movement synchronization and 'yoga chikitsa' means yoga therapy. The four elements of yoga are:
* Asana - posture
* Pranayama - breath
* Bandha - internal core support
* Dristi - directed focus

The series comprises of about 60 postures, which begin with sun salutations, then continues through standing postures, sitting postures and then a closing sequence (followed in this order). The practitioner experiences asanas in a dynamic flowing sequence. Vinyasas thread all the asanas together, which gives the whole practise its flow, grace and momentum. By moving through the vinyasas the body is realigned in preparation for the next posture and the body's internal heat is increased.


Most modern forms of "hot yoga" evolved from and took their inspiration from ashtanga yoga. The Shala yoga classes take place in a high heat environment of about 25 degrees which is ideal for encouraging flexibility and stimulating a gentle detoxification process (without the risk of dizziness and nausea which is common with "hot yoga" where the heat is around 40+ degrees).


The ashtanga vinyasa yoga system was discovered and systemised by Sri Krishnamacharya and his student Sri Pattabhi Jois in the early 1930s. Sri Pattabhi Jois later became the principal proponent and master of the system. The practice may be as old as 5000 years, but it must be looked on as a growing, living knowledge and art.

Ashtanga Today

Asthanga yoga is arguably the most popular form of yoga in the world today. It is the forerunner for many other yoga practices which have appeared in the West in the last decade – dynamic flow, vinyasa flow, hot power yoga and Bikram among them. Ashtanga is taught in a warm (but not excessively hot) room at around 25 degrees C.

The Benefits

The system is designed to therapeutically realign and detoxify the body. Inner body heat is produced during the practice through special breathing (ujjayi). This, combined with two important internal body locks (bandhas), induces sweating. Toxins are eliminated and the nervous system is purified. Heat and energy is also maintained in the body throughout the practise. A deep focus (dristi) is maintained which directs the concentration and brings about a meditative state while you flow through the asanas. There is a dramatic increase of energy and sense of well-being and calm.