Ashtau means 8, anga means limbs. Ashtanga means 8 limbs.
OUTSIDE METHOD - correcting possible
1 Yama - abstinences
2 Niyama - observances
3 Asana - postures
4 Pranayama - breath control
INSIDE METHOD - correcting not possible
5 Pratyahara sense withdrawal
6 Dharana concentration
7 Dhyana meditation
8 Samadhi contemplation
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.
The following are aspects that Pattabhi Jois emphasizes as the main components of Ashtanga Yoga.
"Anyone can do practice.
Young man can practice.
Old man can practice.
Very old man can practice.
Man who is sick, he can practice.
Man who doesn’t have strength can practice.
Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice Ashtanga yoga."
K. Pattabhi Jois
Main components of Ashtanga Yoga
Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. For example, in Surya Namskar there are nine vinyasas. The first vinyasa is inhaling while raising your arms over your head, and putting your hands together; the second is exhaling while bending forward, placing your hands next to your feet, etc. In this way all asanas are assigned a certain number of vinyasas.
The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing. Breathing and moving together while performing asanasmakes the blood hot, or as Pattabhi Jois says, boils the blood. Thick blood is dirty and causes disease in the body. The heat created from yoga cleans the blood and makes it thin, so that it may circulate freely.
The heated blood also moves through all the internal organs removing impurities and disease, which are brought out of the body by the sweat that occurs during practice.
Sweat is an important by product of vinyasa, because it is only through sweat that disease leaves the body and purification occurs. In the same way that gold is melted in a pot to remove its impurities, by the virtue of the dirt rising to the surface as the gold boils, and the dirt then being removed.
If the method of vinyasa is followed, the body becomes healthy and strong, and pure like gold
This means the three places of attention or action: posture, breathing system and looking place. These three are very important for yoga practice, and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other.
Purify, strengthen and give flexibility to the body.
Rechaka and puraka, that means inhale and exhale.
Both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even, the length of the inhale should be the same length as the exhale.
Purifies and stabilizes the functioning of the mind.
Dristhi is the place where you look while in the asana.
There are nine dristhis: the nose, between the eyebrows, navel, thumb, hands, feet, up, right side and left side.
An important component of the breathing system is mula and uddiyana bandha. These are the anal and lower abdominal locks which seal in energy, give lightness, strength and health to the body, and help to build a strong internal fire. Without bandhas, breathing will not be correct, and the asanas will give no benefit.
When mula bandha is perfect, mind control is automatic.
A vital aspect of internal purification that Pattabhi Jois teaches relates to the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart. In the yoga shastra it is said that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons: kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya, and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons, and the light of our inner nature shines forth.
This forms the practical and philosophic basis of Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.