A system recorded in ancient manuscripts, Ashtanga yoga was first mentioned and described by the famous sage Pantanjali in the text entitled Yoga Sutras. Literally, Ashtanga yoga can be translated as “eight-limbed yoga” due to the steps required for its mastery. The very name comes from the central practices required on the way of spiritual purification towards the Universal Self; they include: posture, breath control, sense control concentration, moral codes, study, contemplation and meditation. Each and every one of these stages is meant to bring the practitioner closer to personal fulfillment in which mind control and external cleansing are just as important as mind clarity and spiritual awareness.
Asthanga yoga is mainly focusing on specific dynamic postures that enable the creation of a flow of energy known as the Sun Salutation. There are six types of specific postures that need to be practiced in the same order every time, also following a special breathing pattern. The whole purpose of Ashtanga yoga as such is that of rising a certain heat in the body that allows for the cleansing through the increase of the blood flow and the stimulation of sweating. The immediate physical advantages of Asthanga yoga include a higher joint and tendon mobility as well as superior tissue strength.
There are several study levels specific to Ashtanga yoga, and they are usually organized under the close supervision of an instructor, even if originally the exercises were designed for self-practice. In order to train the body locks and enter or move out of a posture, the Ashtanga yoga practitioner needs to contract specific groups of muscles. Though it may seem like some exotic type of group muscle training, Ashtanga yoga reaches out to high spiritual awareness; the correct practice of this type of yoga is most definitely likely to bring lots of satisfactions both in the seen and the unseen dimensions of personal reality.
Made popular by Madonna, Ashtanga yoga is also accompanied by the incantation of mantras for the beginning and the end of the session. Furthermore, in order to have a distinct approach to yoga for children and adolescents, Ashtanga yoga was also adapted to be more dynamic and include jumps and push ups as well as a series of postures that youngsters find a lot more appealing. Such changes were necessary given the fact that attention focus and inner retrospection are less common in young age. Hence, Ashtanga yoga can be practiced by anyone, on the sole condition that classes and professional guidance be followed.