What Is Ashtanga Yoga?



Short Version:

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a form of yoga that is focused on building strength as well as increasing the flexibility of the body through a higher intensity class than other forms of yoga. Ashtanga classes allow you to build flexibility without sacrificing your fitness workout, and students feel the effects after the first class.

The Ashtanga Vinyasa System as originally taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India is an inspiring and transformative system of yoga that practitioners worldwide consider themselves fortunate to have discovered. It challenges students  like no other sport or activity  because it is so much more than just exercise. 

 Jois named his yoga after Ashtanga Yoga- the Eight Limbs of Yoga set forth by an ancient sage named Patanjali. Doing yoga poses is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga practices, others being ethical observances, breathing exercises, and meditation. AVY is best practiced within the context of Patanjali’s eight limbs and provides a richer, full experience because of it.  Look for more information on the eight limbs in a future blog post.


About Tapas Durham


Tapas Yoga Durham is a progressive non-dogmatic Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga school. AVY was originally taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, class was held in the wee morning hours and was not led by the teacher but was self-led by the student having memorized the order of poses. Great if you can make a 6am class and have a photographic memory, but not so great if you work 3rd shift and have never done yoga before! 

But Larry Schultz, a  student of Pattabhi Jois, began teaching Ashtanga to American students and saw a need. The first series of Ashtanga Vinyasa as it comes from India is the equivalent of a level 3 class in the west. You don’t find many level 3 classes at yoga studios in the USA! To say it’s a challenge in its full form is quite the understatement.

 Larry removed the poses beginners can’t do or do safely, and led the class through the poses with instructions on how to work in the poses. Things it took him years to learn in his own practice he could pass on to beginners and they could progress safely and more quickly. Soon students were able to practice the full first series intelligently and safely using their knowledge gained from mastering the  Ashtanga 1 and Ashtanga 2 series.

Kevin has chosen to model Tapas Yoga's AVY program after his teacher Larry's program because if it weren't for Larry, Kevin doubts he ever would have started Ashtanga, something that changed his life so much for the better. Kevin hopes that he can help others the same way he was, by taking the impossible poses out initially, de-mystifying the practice and making classes more accessible to everyone. Ashtanga classes at Tapas are appropriate for any one of any age, from teens to healthy people in their 60’s.

Top Photo: Pattabhi Jois and Larry Schultz (in back). From the Wikipedia website.


Is Ashtanga Vinyasa For Me?

The honest truth is you won't know until you try! People from every walk of life do Ashtanga and you can't guess  beforehand who will love it and who will think it's not for them. Most people who are brave enough to try it love it! So sign up for a class and see for yourself.