What is Ashtanga?
Ashtanga Yoga follows a fixed (although not rigid) sequence of postures. In the traditional style of teaching students are taught postures one at a time on an individual basis, with the teacher offering support and guidance. As a student memorizes and becomes proficient with postures (asanas) they have learned, new asanas are added. In this way students become steady and independent in their practice and they gradually build strength, flexibility and stamina.
The Ashtanga method is a vigorous moving mediation designed to help the student develop a strong, healthy body and a quiet, steady mind. Ashtanga Yoga is performed utilizing the Tristhana Method in which breath is synchronized with the movements (vinyasa) of a progressively more challenging series of postures (asana) and a specific set of gazing points (drishti). In this way, the practice produces internal heat and a purifying sweat. By practicing the Trishtana method the student is able to develop mental focus and over time develops into an internal practice, rather than simply a set of external exercises.
As with all traditional yoga practices, a key element of Ashtanga Yoga is the relationship between the teacher and student. The teachers at Mysore Philadelphia believe their role is to act as a guide to the student as they learn the practice, and to hold a safe space for the student to grow as a result of exploration of self.