From this we can conclude that Ashtanga yoga refers neither to the asanas nor the order of the asanas. The term ‘Ashtanga’ means ‘eight limbs’ thereby referring to the eight limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga. Mula bandha or the root lock is used to tighten the muscles around the pelvic and perineum areas.
Throat lock or ‘jalandhara bandha’ whereby the gaze is brought to the tip of the nose is achieved by lowering the chin slightly and raising the sternum. Drishti: These refer to the nine places that the yogi looks at while doing the yoga postures.
Ashtanga yoga literally aims to cleanse the practitioner’s mind through a series of eight steps.
While the first four steps are for physical cleansing the last four are for mental and spiritual cleansing.
Ashtanga yoga is for those who desire to build up strength, stamina and some body flexibility. Hence “ashtanga yoga” focuses on purifying the individuals mind through eight (meaning asht) steps.


The aim of modern Ashtanga yoga is to channel the hyperactive minds of individuals to the restive bodies.  In order to perform the asanas of Ashatanga yoga perfectly, one must incorporate the use of Vinyasa and Tristhana. The performer is expected to quickly progress from one yoga pose to another in a packed sequence. These dristhis are the nose, between the eyebrows, navel, thumb, hands, feet, upright side and left side. Each and every step has to be mastered before proceeding to the next, or even attempting it. It should take at least seventy five to ninety minutes to complete a series of Ashtanga yoga. The purpose of this yoga is to embody the eight limbs of yoga, mentioned above into the yoga sutras of Patanjali’s.
The opening sequence of the Ashtanga poses begins with the Salutations to the Sun God (Surya Namaskar).
Since Ashtanga comprises a sequence of yoga postures, the performer is likely to experience very demanding routine after a body warming routine that is designed to activate one’s muscles. This text was later, handed down to Pattabhi Jois, while he was being tutored by Krishnamachraya, starting in 1927.


Focus of Ashtanga yoga is on strength as against other yoga forms where the emphasis in on breathing, relaxation and flexibility. The practitioner of ashtanga yoga has to take synchronized breaths; inhaling and exhaling as the asanas are performed. The text is said to contain information on various asanas, and also the original teachings on Vinyasa, Bandhas, Drishti, Mudras and Philosophy. The purpose of Vinyasa is internal cleansing – when breath and movement us coordinated while performing the asanas, the blood is heated up, thereby thinning and cleaning it.
The practice of Ashtanga is with a predefined set of postures always in the same order combined with specific breathing exercises. Since 1948, Pattabhi Jois has been teaching Ashtanga yoga at his Yoga Shala called “Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute”.



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