Astanga yoga is a dynamic form of yoga which follows a set sequence of postures ‘asanas.’ Movement is combined with the breath generating heat and stilling the mind to bring focus, flexibility and stamina. There are great benefits to be achieved from this practice and with perseverance one can achieve changes both physically and emotionally. Physically the primary series realigns the muscular skeletal system working as a yoga therapy. Astanga develops strength and flexibility of the muscles and joints. The health and efficiency of internal organs will improve as we detoxify the system, increase lung capacity, regulate the hormones and strengthen the nervous system.
As students progress more deeply into the practice the body will become healthy toned and flexible. The practice requires focus, and in time the body learns to flow in a rhythm with the breath to a ‘moving meditation’ which stills the mind and improves our ability to concentrate. A quiet sense of achievement and confidence is attained on the mat which can filter into our everyday lives.
There are six series of astanga yoga. The primary series takes on average seven years to master. Everyone’s bodies are different; we all work with different strengths and weaknesses. Yoga is a personal journey and a lifetime practice. We must enjoy each and every practice and do so with consideration of tomorrows practice. There are forty postures ‘asanas’ in the primary series which are linked together with the vinyasa to create the flow. Vinyasa is what distinguishes astanga from other forms of yoga. It is a unique system of breath and movement to form a continuous flow. Each posture has to be followed in order as it prepares us for what is to come. Movement through the sequence of asanas generates a heat which is maintained through the vinyasa.
“Yoga is not for the flexible, its for the willing.”
The word Astanga translates as ‘eight limbs’ which are a basis of many forms of yoga, an ancient art practiced for over five thousand years. The eight limbs are derived from the yoga sutras which describe how yoga can overcome the afflictions of the mind to attain a state of detachment and ultimate enlightenment. The ultimate purpose of yoga is to have the ability to sit in ’lotus’ with a still mind. Samadhi is complete spiritual absorption, self realisation
We offer two methods towards learning the astanga practice:
- A guided class. in a guided class you receive guidance and instruction throughout the class. You are supported throughout with gentle adjustments and a watchful eye to ensure correct alignment, improved posture, greater flexibility, focus and strength.
- A Mysore ‘self practise’ class. We recommend a course of guided classes first to familiarise yourself with at least the standing sequence. A Mysore class gives you the opportunity to work at your own pace and receive one to one assistance from the teacher. This practice allows you to progress at your own pace liberating you from the need for constant instruction and guidance. This shift quietens the mind and allows deeper more profound changes to arise as you tune into your own needs offering a refuge of quiet introspection.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. Bhagvad Gita
In a guided astanga class you will be led through the structure of the primary series astanga practice.
A guided class is the perfect place to begin, learn and maintain your practice. We share the energy of everyone moving and breathing together with constant instruction, support and adjustment from the teacher.
We follow the traditional vinyasa method, which teaches us how to move through the sequence inhaling and exhaling in and out of postures and remaining within the ‘state of the asana’ for the correct count. This traditional method using Sankrit to count and name the postures connects us with yogis around the world who practice in the same way.
A guided class will offer you the motivation and instil the discipline required for a regular astanga practice. These classes are suitable for beginners and experienced yogis and we will support your practice appropriately.
Once you have learned and established your practice you may want to move onto a more independent method of practice with a self practice ‘Mysore’ class.
‘Mixing Mysore classes with led classes can be good to keep the practice fresh. Some people prefer being told what to do and when to do it. For these people, obviously, a guided class is good. Others prefer to work independently and figure things out on their own. For them, a Mysore class is good. But perhaps another perspective is that some independent spirits may benefit from the discipline of a guided class and some more dependent spirits could benefit from the independence that the Mysore format provides. The most important thing, of course, is to practice.’ Tim Miller
Advantaged of a Guided class:
Community - a wonderful way to practice with others.
Introduction or a reminder -to learn/be reminded of the sequence with the support and guide of a teacher
Breath -to hear the breath, feel the pace and share the energy of a group class
Energy - to learn the discipline and layers of understanding
Tradition - Astanga is a steeped in tradition, from the vinyasa count to subtle vibrations of the Sanskrit language
Surrender - to follow the teachers count. If you are a beginner or a regular practitioner a weekly guided class will support your practice.
Mysore (astanga self-practise) Classes
Saturday 9-11.15am (online option begins at 8.30)
The traditional way of practicing astanga is ‘Mysore style’ the self-practice method. The term Mysore comes from the Indian city of Mysore where the practise of astanga began.
Mysore (self practice) is the best method to really feel a difference in your practice as we move with the breath in a moving meditation. We practise in a quiet room filled only with the sound of ujahi breath.
Some knowledge of the practice will be beneficial before you start but you don’t need to know the full sequence as we are here to assist you as you learn. Individual instruction and adjustments are given as and when needed to suit the student rather than the class as a whole making it feel more like a 1-1 class but with the support of the group energy of others in the room. A beginner will naturally be given more instruction than an advanced practitioner but both practise in the same class. Mysore Style classes are a great way to start your practise as there is no need to “keep up” with the other students in the class. Typically a beginner will practise for a shorter time 1/2-1hr to begin with and build the time as they learn the full sequence.
My aim is to guide, correct and encourage as needed and work with each student individually to enable them to get the most from their practise.
The class is open for two hours so as long as you are finished by about 1.15am you can start at any time. We often have a second class which starts at 10.30 and students filter in and out in their own time.
Advantages of a Mysore class:
In the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga, each class begins and ends with a short mantra.
The mantra, chanted at the beginning of the class, is an invocation of the sage Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras) and also gives thanks to the continuous line of teachers who have come before us (from Patanjali in the 2nd century B.C. to the present day). The closing mantra brings practice to a peaceful end; sealing in the work done and offering the efforts of our practice to improve the state of the world.
Practice Mantra (opening chant)
Vande Gurunam charanaravinde
Samsara halahala mohashantyai
sahasra sirasam svetam
I pray to the feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches knowledge, awakening the great happiness of the Self revealed
Who acts like the jungle physician
Able to remove the delusion from the poison of conditioned existence
To patanjali, an incarnate of Adisesa, white in colour with a
thousand radiant heads (in his form as the divine serpent,
Ananta), human in form below the shoulders, holding the
sword of discrimination, a wheel of fire representing infinite
time, and the conch representing divine sound to him,
Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
Nya Yena Margena Mahim Mahishaha
Go Brahmanebhyaha Shubamastu Nityam
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi
May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
May all beings everywhere be happy and free
Om peace, peace, perfect peace
Book a class or course online
Please click here for our timetable, go to the date of your first class for booking. Contact Sarah 07703599609/ firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.