About Yoga & Ashtānga Yoga

Updated: Jan 27

“The way of establishing the mind within the Ātman should be known as yoga.” ~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

◇ About Yoga ◇ About Ashtānga Yoga ◇ The 8 Limbs of Yoga ◇ The 15 Limbs of Yoga ◇ History of Yoga ◇


Yoga is the unified use of body, breath & mind for the purpose of becoming a healthier, happier, more balanced and present human being. Yoga produces greater coordination, flexibility, strength, vitality & mental clarity while reducing tension & disease producing stress. Yoga leads us towards freedom!

“Yoga is – citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ – the controlling of the mind. If we are sitting here, but our mind is not here, then it has gone elsewhere. To control the mind, to bring it back, that is Yoga.” - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Nama Rupa, p. 10, Spring 2003


Ashtānga Yoga begins with the practice of a specific sequence of postures (āsanas) synchronized together with breath and movement (vinyāsa). The sequence begins with sun salutations (sūrya namaskāras), then progresses through standing and seated postures, and finishes with a seated breathing practice. As an extensive system, the Ashtānga sequence is divided into six parts commonly known as Primary (cikitsā vibhāga), Intermediate (nāḍī śodhana), and Advanced A, B, C & D (sthira vibhāga).

The Foundation: Ashtānga Yoga is founded upon even breathing, core strength (bandhas) and gazing (drishti). These components create continuity and stability while practicing the sequence, and when done correctly, ensures progress unfolds safely and successful while cleansing & strengthening both the mind & body.

"[T]he practice of āsana is spoken of in the śāstras – āsanam pūrvam ucyate – as coming first. Why? We do not have enough energy in the body; the body is very weak. We do not have the listening power to comprehend things clearly. If we have enough śakti, energy, then it is possible to get things accomplished. That is why we must first do āsana." ~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Nama Rupa, p. 10, Spring 2003

Ashtānga Yoga – literally: eight limb yoga – means Yama (ethical restraint), Niyama (personal improvements), Āsana (physical posture), Prāṇāyāma (breath & bio rhythm control), Pratyāhāra (control of senses), Dhāraṇā (steady focus), Dhyāna (deep concentration), and Samādhi (meditative absorption). Āsana and Prāṇāyāma (the 3rd and 4th limbs) form the foundation of yoga. By practicing these two limbs every day for a long time with faith, enthusiasm & dedication, the other limbs are developed and understood.

"For the yogin who seeks to climb the mountain - to reach the peak - of yoga, practice is said to be the means; as regards the yogin who has already reached this peak of yoga, equanimity and meditation directly on the eternal (śama) is said to be the means." ~ Bhagavad Gītā, Ch. 6 v. 3