July Focus of the Month: Ashtanga: The Eight Limbs and the Practice

John Campbell: Ashtanga

This month we’ll be exploring both the Eight Limbs (ashtanga) of yoga AND Ashtanga, the practice founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. We are so lucky to have one of the foremost teachers of Ashtanga, John Campbell, offering workshops at Satya and at Sadhana in July and August. John was one of my first teachers, and he is a gem.

Ashtanga means Eight Limbs and comes from the second chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The limbs include the Yamas and Niyamas (the ethical and individual tenets), Asana and Pranayama (the postures and breathing), and Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi (working with your senses and mind and moving toward meditation and wisdom). These limbs form the path of our modern yoga practice.

Ashtanga is also the type of yoga founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in India under the tutelage of Krishnamacharya. This practice and sequence of postures is believed to come from the Yoga Karunta, an ancient manuscript that focused on groupings of asanas, drishti, bandhas, mudras and philosophy, believed to have been written by the sage Vamana.

Ashtanga Yoga is a beautiful practice that can be learned in a group or individually (known as Mysore practice). Mysore is the city in India where Pattabhi Jois lived and where the studio continues under the guidance of his grandson Sharath and daughter Saraswati.