Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a challenging and dynamic style of yoga taught by the late Shri K Pattabhi Jois, Guruji as he is affectionately known, was a student of Krishnamacharya, who is considered the father of modern Yoga. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is is a dynamic form of Yoga consisting of five main elements:
Breath - Ujjayi breath is used to heat the body. Breathing through the noes warms and filters the air. Ujjayi creates a soft noise in the back of the throat, the aim is to create a rhythm to the breath and then ride it gracefully through the practice. The breath is the most important part of the Ashtanga practice.
Vinyasa - A vinyasa is a flowing series of movements performs to link each pose. They too create heat which allows more freedom within the asanas. They are the marriage of breath and movement.
Poses - Ashtanga is divided up into a number of series, each series of poses (asanas) is performed in a specific order and separated by vinyasas
Focus Point - Dristi is used to focus the mind.
Bandhas - These are internal valves within the subtle body which assist in the regulation of prana. The main two are Mula bandha - root lock (perineum or head of the cervix) and Uddiyana bandha - flying upward lock (lower abdominals below the navel and above the pubic bone). The two work together to move Prana up the spine during the Ashtanga practice.
The union of these elements leads to a moving meditation - Tristana (the union of movement, ujjayi, dristi and bandhas).
About Vinyasa Flow
Inspired by the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice, Vinyasa Flow yoga takes the dynamic style of linking breath and movement but each class is different.
I play music to set the mood and each class has a theme. We work through a flowing series, adding on poses and vinyasas to challenge you before finishing with some deeper stretches and a final relaxation.
Bodies are made to move and find variety in expression of the various Yoga asanas (poses). Vinyasa Flow is our opportunity to link breath and movement and explore.
This style give us the chance to progress through the Kramas or stages of asanas. Once we have opened the body we progress to a peak pose.
In these classes we explore sun salutations, mandalas, folds, twists, balances and backbends! Nothing is off limits and the music sets the scene and mood of the class. I encourage students to work to their "intelligent edge" and keep an internal focus, moving out of the thinking body into the feeling body to engage with both breath and asana.
The body should not be forced into places it isn't ready to go, in time we open on all levels.
After qualifying as a Yoga Teacher I was drawn to the flowing movements and challenge of the Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow styles. Mentored by my own teacher Sally Brooks I began to form my own style and classes.
I have also attended further teacher training intensives with Shiva Rea and David Swenson