A. Ashtanga Yoga | Primary Series

Sun Salutation A&B | Suryanamaskara A&B

Surya A.jpg




B. Ashtanga Yoga in the Tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Yoga is a philosophy of life, which also has the potential to create a vibrantly healthy body and mind.

Ashtanga Yoga, practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscovering his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousnesshysical, psychological, and spiritual. Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (driste), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of our selves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.

“Ashtanga” literally means eight limbs. They are described by Patanjali as: Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (contemplation). These branches support each other. Asana practice must be established for proper practice of pranayama and is a key to the development of the yamas and niyamas. Once these four externally oriented limbs are firmly rooted, the last four internally oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.

“Vinyasa” means breath-synchronized movement. The breath is the heart of this discipline and links asana to asana in a precise order. By synchronizing movement with breathing and practicing Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas (locks), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals, which can nourish the body when the sweat is massaged back into the skin. The breath regulates the vinyasa and ensures efficient circulation of blood. The result is a light, strong body. 

There are three groups of sequences in the Ashtanga system. The Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body. The Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D (Sthira Bhaga) integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility.Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asanas is to be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.


The continuity of deep, even breathing cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga Yoga system. When breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise, and perfectly steady.

According to the teachings of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “Breath is Life.” Breathing is our most fundamental and vital act and holds a divine essence: exhalation a movement towards God, and inhalation an inspiration from God. Our last action in life is to exhale, which, in essence, is the final and total surrender to God.


It is said that where there is no effort there is no benefit. Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspects of this traditional Yoga, seemingly contrary to Western perceptions of Yoga.

This demanding practice requires considerable effort and taps into and circulates a vital energy throughout the body, strengthening and purifying the nervous system. The mind then becomes lucid, clear and precise; and according to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “Wherever you look you will see God.” Only through practice will we realize the truth of what our guru often says:

“Everything is God.”
Please note the importance of learning the Ashtanga method only from a traditionally trained teacher. Only a qualified teacher can provide the necessary guidance to assure safe, steady progress without injury to body or mind!

Last section
Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute
Yogasana Visharada Vedanta Vidwan
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Director
R. Sharat, Assistant Director
876/1, 1st Cross, Lakshmipuram
Mysore - 570004
Karnataka State, South India

This information has been generously provided with the approval of Sri K.Pattabhi Jois. Please honor its authenticity and distribute only in unaltered form. Written by Annie Pace.

(taken from http://www.tarik.com/mysore)


C. SHARATH JOIS CONFERENCE Notes, February 7th, 2015
*with the Highest Respect for Sharathji

Caksur Unmīlitam Yena
Tasmai Śri-Gurave Namah

“Many of you are new faces, many of you have come for the first time to Mysore…

imaḿ vivasvate yogaḿ proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave’bravīt
evaḿ paramparā-prāptam imaḿ rājarṣayo viduḥ 
sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
(Bhagavad-Gītā 4.1-2)

…in Bhagavad-Gītā it says, this Yoga is not new. Yoga has been there for millions and millions of years. All the rishis and the saints, the sadhus and sannyasis have been practicing Yoga for millions of years. Why they are practicing? To gain Higher Consciousness. We are all conscious but our consciousness is very low, we know just to handle this world, how to survive, how we have to behave, we are programmed. If you want to buy a toothpaste, you go to Loyal World, pay money, you know how. But what is this Higher Consciousness? This Higher Consciousness takes us towards the Divine; to understand this Life, understand what is Spirituality and how to get connected to the Divine. This is Higher Consciousness…once you get connected to the Divine…that is Spirituality. Yama and Niyamas, how many of you are following that? Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Bramacharya, Aparigaha, Shaucha, Santosha, Taps, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana. We all know, it is there in the text book…but how many of you…how many of us, I will include me also, practice? We don’t follow it. Once we get Higher Consiousness, automatically that will come within us; what Spirituality is, not just going to the Temple, sitting there, after you come and do bad things. That is not Spirituality. Spirituality means the Transformation which happens within us; we get sensitive to many things once we get the Knowledge within us. Bhagavad-Gītā says this Yoga has come from generations to many generations; Vivasvan, Manu, like this, one after the other after the other. So it has flown from many many generations. Guru-Shishya Parampara. How this has come? A Teacher and his Disciple. A Master and his Disciple. A Master is who has mastered in this Yoga through Master to his Disciple; a disciple who dedicates himself to his Master, towards his Teaching, being with him, learning with him. Nowadays Yoga has changed, it is not the same Yoga which used to be there, millions of years back. You don’t want to follow a System, you don’t want to follow a Guru. This is very important in our Practice. This is the part of Sadhana. What is part of Sadhana? You devote yourself to one Guru, one Master. And he will transfer everything to you. Many years you devote to your Practice then only you will have better understanding. So as generations passed, in the Bahagavad-Gītā it says ‘yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa’…as generations passed one after the other after the other, it started becoming diluted. Not many people got interested in knowing Yoga Knowledge. Because it needs lots of Sadhana, lots of Devotion, lots of Dedication, lots of Determination. Lots of D’s are involved in the Sadhana. So when generations passed, people started forgetting about Yoga. ‘I’m going to teach you Yoga.’ That’s what Sri Krishna says to his disciple Arjuna in the Mahābhārata. It’s a very big epic, and in that comes the Bahagavad-Gītā, which has lots of Yogic and Moral Knowledge. In the Yoga Sutras it says, Ashtanga Yoga is the Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is very important, why it is important? It talks about Yama, Niyama, Ahimsa, Asteya, Bramacharya…it covers all these things.

yoga-aṅga-anuṣṭhānād-aśuddhi-kṣaye jñāna-dīptir-āviveka-khyāteḥ (YS 2.28)

So how does this Yoga happen? It’s a process. It should Happen. It’s not like a pain killer. When you have pain, you go buy and take the pain killer, the pain will go away. For Enlightenment, there is no tablet, there is no syrup, there is no medicine! Your Sadhana is the only medicine!…the only way you will reach Enlightenment. Nowadays you get a certificate, you think you’re enlightened? You’re wasting money for nothing. Everything is instant now. Nobody wants to do Sadhana. Passing by Mysore to just practice for one month with Sharath or stretch your body because it feels good, like that Enlightenment doesn’t happen. You come for one month you think you like to do this, you like to do that, you’re thinking one month you will finish. One month in Mysore and you want to do everything. You will ruin your whole Sadhana. You will not do anything properly. There was a barber, he had so many clients. He had to cut so many hair. So what he did? He cut little bit hair of this guy, little bit of this guy, little bit of that guy. After he sees, nobody is fully cut! Everyone is half-shaved! (laughter). He had to shave all of these people’s head, but he didn’t have patience. He didn’t concentrate on each person. He shaved little bit of everyone’s hair. So Sadhana is like that. You do Asana here, you do Pranayama there…it’s like Masala Dosa. You go to Durga and think you like to try this one, you like to try set dosa, you like to try plain dosa, all Dosas you’ll try. You won’t relish any of those dosas! If you want to relish Masala Dosa, you should eat only Masala Dosa! (laughter and relating) it’s like when you go to these big super malls and you go to the Perfume section. When you enter, one lady will come and sprays on you. You smell and it’s good first time. You go a little forward and another lady comes. Your whole body is full of all of these different perfumes. You go from here and by the time you exit there, the whole body is smelling badly! (laughter) You can’t enjoy one perfume. So like this, in Yoga, you should also follow one System. This Ashtanga System is so beautiful! Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi…how beautifully it has been arranged. Yoga-aṅga-anuṣṭhānād-aśuddhi-kṣaye. Yoga Anya. Which are the Yoga angas? These eight. By practicing these eight limbs, step by step, stage by stage, aśuddhi-kṣaye. First, aśuddhi is the impurities that we have to get rid of, impurities of the body, impurities of the mind. Without getting rid of these two, how can someone think about Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi? It doesn’t happen if you’re mind is filled up with a lot of delusions inside. The eight limbs of Patanjali Yoga Sutra has been divided. First four limbs are external exercise. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama. These are the foundations to build Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. These four (the latter) you won’t have to do, it will happen automatically, only when your foundations are correct. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama are the fundamental limbs. Once you correct them, then automatically Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi will happen. Aśhuddhi-kṣaye, by practicing this, once we get rid of all the impurities in the body…what are the impurities in the body? Some people are sick, some people doesn’t have strength, some pele are out of focus. So this Asana is a Sadhana which will bring good health, bring more stamina, bring stability in you, you’ll be more focused. Of course, it depends how you do it. If you to the gym and you want to practice Yoga only as a workout then it will not give you the benefits. But if you incorporate the breathing, the focus, the Tristhana we say, with the breathing and the gazing, then it becomes focused practice. Now when you practice, where is your focus? Your focus is somewhere else. When you bring focus within you everyday, you become so focused in your practice, that becomes a Meditative Practice. Meditating is focusing, that’s all. Dhyana is different. Withdrawing all the sense organs is Dhyana, a very very high level of Yoga. Focusing is Meditation. So, to focus in one place, bring oneness within you, that is very important in our practice. Once we develop that slowly, slowly, you will become stronger in your practice, stronger in your focus, bring you closer to the higher levels of Yoga. We get many understanding within us, we get more clarity within us once we practice Asanas through breathing. Then the aśhuddhi, all the impurities, of the body and the mind will be removed. First Asana is very important, why? To get better understanding of Yama-Niyama. Once you start doing Asana, all these breathing techniques, then you get better understanding, there is clarity. If you come here to study and then I tell you, okay, practice Yama-Niyama. Is that possible? No. First you have to get clarity within you, better understanding within you. That happens through your practice, then your mind will start thinking towards Yama-Niyamas. Only when the impurities of your mind is gone., then only Yama-Niyamas will follow. Aśuddhi-kṣaye jñāna-dīptir. Then once we get rid of all these impurities, then Jñāna, the Real, True, Spiritual Knowledge, we’ll be able to understand. Jñāna-dīptir-āviveka-khyāteḥ. Then you will become wiser in your Spiritual Practice. So these are the benefits of doing Ashtanga Yoga. But then, in Yoga Sutras it doesn’t say Vinyasa, doesn’t say Paschimattanasana, Purvattanasana. Then you have to refer other books. As I said, this Knowledge comes from Guru-Shishya Parampara. This knowledge doesn’t come by reading books. This knowledge only comes by spending time with your Guru. That Master will teach you all these techniques. Anyone can read Yoga Sutras, there are lots of translations in English. Control your mind, but how? How to control your mind? By reading you can control your mind? It’s not possible. It’s not controlling the mind. It’s calming the mind. Your mind is like monkey. Mind jumps here, there like a monkey. Make it as a koala bear. It’s very calm. If you leave monkey for five minutes, it will jump fifteen branches here and there. Our mind is also like that. My Father always used to say ‘Idle mind is Devil’s Workshop.’ The mind if you leave for five minutes, it starts thinking so many things. It’s like a Devil’s Workshop, ‘I want this, I want that.’ So how to calm this mind? How to bring this focus? Practice the Vinyasa Krama, what you do. It’s got so much breathing techniques involved in that, that inhalation, that exhalation with the postures. So there are three things happening. Pranayama is happening, Asana is happening, and Gazing; Focus, Meditation is also happening in the Practice. Pranayama means what? To extend the Prana, that is what you are doing. You’re extending the Prana, inhalation, exhalation. You’re expanding the Prana in each Asana. So you’re doing Pranayama. And Focusing is Meditation. So you’re doing all these things in your Practice. You don’t have to spend so much money learning Pranayama somewhere. So this Knowledge has come from so many generations, it is not new. As we know, it goes up to Rama Mohan Bramachari, Krishnamacharya, then Pattabhi Jois, then to me, then to you. So it has come like this, the Parampara, it has come.


Authorization happens only when you are eligible; once we have confirmed that you are able to transmit, you are able to teach this knowledge properly to others, then you will get authorized. I don’t know you. I do not know what you do in other Shalas. You need to practice here, regularly. If you say you have been practicing Yoga in the beach for many years, how would I know if you’ve been practicing properly or not? I’m staying here. Practice in front of me. I have to understand the student. I have to know that he knows something. If you are practicing, I don’t have Divya Drishti. Divya Dhristi is, I can be here, I can see the whole world. I need to see, I have only two eyes.


More practice for nose Drishti. It’s one advantage for long noses, if you have small nose…(fade out, laughter) Just practice. As I told you, you have to be more focused in your own practice. Once you do all these breathing technique and gazing in your practice, you will also get used to this. Put a red dot here (points to the tip of nose; laughter everywhere), you practice like that. But don’t put it and come to the Shala.


The string we wear is called Brahmin String. Once you become a Brahmin. It’s a great ceremony which Father will teach you the Gāyatrī Mantra. He will teach you all of the Brahmin rituals, and that is when you get that string. To perform all of those rituals you have to have that string, otherwise, you can’t do anything, according to Indian, especially Brahmin Tradition.


An 80year old woman who has knee injury can do Surya Namaskara and some Asanas. She can’t do Eka Pada (smiles). Eighteen years back, my Grandmother had just passed away and we all moved to this opposite house (points to the house across the Shala). So Guruji came from Lakshmipuram and he was living here. So everyday, my Grandfather and me, we used to go to Lakshmipuram, in the early morning at four o'clock, and again in the evening we used to go. One day in the evening we went there, at four o'clock in the evening and we saw there was one man and a lady sitting outside Lakshmipuram Shala, on the small concrete bench. As soon as he saw Guruji, he was 86years old, and the lady was his daughter, she was 65years…he said ‘I want to practice Yoga.’ He was 86years, he’s older than Guruji! So he came. Doctor said he has Hernia and he had to go through an operation. But he said he would not get any operation and he would learn Yoga from Pattabhi Jois. So he came. Three months he did Yoga. 86year old man. So anyone can practice Yoga. Who can practice? Young man can practice. Young woman can practice. Old people also can practice. Very old they can also practice. Only one cannot practice, who is that? (everyone answers in unison) LAZY. Lazy (Sharathji nods with a smile). If I give 4:30am time to someone, they say ‘Oh I have to get up really early. I don’t want to come at 4:30am. Can you change my time?’ But I’m not sleeping to teach you. Everyday three hours, four hours I’m sleeping. Because I have to prepare for morning class, previous day. Have my dinner at five o'clock. I have to do my own practice 12:30am.


Children can start Ashtanga Yoga 10-12yrs. You have to understand Vinyasa, all these breathing techniques. That’s why at least you have to be 10-12yrs. Then you can understand when to inhale where to exhale. Before that, if someone just wants to play with Asana, don’t stop them. I started when I was 6-7yrs. I was doing all the Asanas, my Grandfather never stopped me.


Someone asked me a question, When do You practice Yoga? I answered ‘24 Hours!’ What is this 24hours? 24hours of Yoga! Asana Practice for 3hours, Yoga Practice for 24hours. That means to think about what is Yoga. Yoga is not limited to Asanas. Asana is a tool to bring stability and strength to your body and mind. Your real Sadhana is beyond Asana Practice. Asana is very important tool, that is the Foundation, but that is not the Ultimate Goal of Yoga. This Foundation is very important. It’s like a vehicle, it reaches you to one destination. This vehicle will take you there. But for you to research, to go beyond that, again you have to have proper understanding of Yoga. So Asana is very important daily Practice, then to think about what Yoga is, how to follow Yama-Niyamas, how to bring Oneness within us, this is also part of Sadhana. You can do Japa. Japa also brings good energy within you.

Taj-japaḥ tad-artha-bhāvanam (YG1.28)

Once you do Japa, repeating the same mantra many many times, continuously saying, that brings positive energy within you. Again, once you do Asanas, your mind gets so focused, you’re breathing, lots of concentration, you bring so much stamina, you bring stability. So once you do this Japa, at that time, it becomes more stronger. Already through Asanas you’re generating Positive Energy within you. Asanas is not just bending your body. Through this breathing technique, through that focus, you generate positive energy within you. So once we get rid of all these delusions we have, then you get positive energy within you. So everyday, read books. Don’t waste time at coconut stand simply gossiping about something. You read Bhagavd-Gītā, Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā, you can read many books. You can read Upanishads. Before reading Patanajali Yoga Sutra, you go through Bhagavad-Gītā first. It takes one year for you to read and understand. There’s lots of good things there. Gīta-sugītā. It means Gītā comes directly from the Divine. Krishna is Everything.


tapaḥ svādhyāy-eśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyā-yogaḥ (YG2.1)

Kriya means action. Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana, once you practice these three things, it becomes Kriya Yoga.


You want to study Pranayama somewhere? If you are studying with me, see the application in the back. Terms and Conditions. You’re not supposed to practice Asana or Pranayama or Meditation with someone else. See, you’re following One System. Once you’re following One System you should follow That. As I told you, you should have one food. The food will be tasty. If you’re walking on the street, many pele will offer you many food. If you taste this, taste that, you will get stomach upset, throwing up all night. This System also, always my Grandfather used to say, when you have two Teachers, if you’re not following one system, you’re following two systems, one shishya, one student will die. When your fundamental itself is not correct, what’s the use of sitting there and doing Pranayama? Once you follow One system, you should follow That System. You are doing Pranayama here itself.

Prānāyāmena yuktena sarva-roga-kṣayo bhavet
ayuktābhyāsa-yogena sarva-roga-samudgamaḥ 
(Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā 2.16)

The Shastras say that by doing Pranayama, you can get rid of many diseases but if you don’t do it properly, you will invite unwanted diseases. First lungs have to be strong, nervous system has to be strong. Your nervous system has to be perfect. First you have to bring stability to your body and mind, nervous system, then your lungs should be ready to hold and withstand Pranayama. That is why this breathing technique, this Vinyasa is very important to strengthen your nervous system, to straighten your lungs, to bring stability within you, to bring more focus within you. Then, Pranayama is possible. When you do that, then you’re ready for Pranayama. First you have to be ready. If someone asked me to climb Mt. Everest, I will if I go just climb. First I have to climb many small hills with preparation for five years. One and a half year practice combing Chamundi Hill. Then I have to go little taller, practice trekking. Then little bigger. Then I have to go to a mountain where there is snow, so that I get used to it. Then after five, six years of doing these things, then I can go to Himalayas to go to Mt. Everest, because I will be prepared with all my preparations. If I just climbed, I can’t even go to the base camp. So preparation is important. You should have patience, that’s all.


Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi will come later. First you have to be stable. Yama-Niyama-Asana-Pranayama is what we are doing now. Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi will automatically happen. You have to nourish…when you want to grow a Rose Plant, what you do? You don’t grow the plant and pull it up. It doesn’t come like that. You have to nourish the roots. You have to put proper fertilizer, proper water, then the Rose will come. Asana is also like that, the Yoga Practice is also like that. First you have to nourish the roots. Once you have the strong roots, the plant will grow, the tree will grow, strongly. Then the flower or the fruit will come. If the roots are not strong enough, the tree will fall.

Vyādhi styāna saṁśaya pramāda-ālasya-avirati bhrāntidarśana-alabdha-bhūmikatva-anavasthitatvāni citta-vikṣepāḥ te antarāyāḥ (YS 1.30)

Alabdha-bhūmikatva…once you’re grounded properly, in your Spiritual Practice, the grounding is very important… the ground is not correct, you can’t build a Spiritual building. If you want to build a Spiritual building, first the Foundation should be proper. If the Foundation is not proper, the tall building which you have will fall. Once the four pillars are strong, then you can build your building, reach Higher Consciousness. If your ground is not strong, what Higher Consciousness can you think of? If you’re disturbed by many things, disturbed mind cannot think of Higher Consciousness or Enlightenment.


After reading Bhagavad-Gītā and Yoga Sutras, Practice! There are many books that talk about Yoga. Yoga Sutra says, Upanishads says about Yoga, Samhita says about Yoga, there’s many many books. But books are just to refer. The Sadhana is Practical. If you want to be academic then just read books. There are many scholars in Mysore who have read Yoga Sutras but there is no Internal Sadhana, they don’t have their own personal Sadhana. Whatever book knowledge is there, they will tell you ‘Control the Mind.’ Can you control the mind? Stop Chitta Vritti. Stop the mind. Can you stop your mind? You can’t even take one step if you stop your mind. What does that mean? To bring calmness to your mind. To bring the whatever delusions we have, whatever disturbance we have, to stop That disturbance. To stop That delusions, is called as Chitta Vritti Nirodhāh. Our own Sadhana is very important. Without that, Yoga is very difficult to understand.

*At this point, Sharathji returns a lost and found purse with identifications cards. Sambhav, his son, walks in. Someone asks Sharaji how old Sambhav is. Sharathji answers ‘Seven Years.’ Sambhav claims eight. ‘He turns eight years this September.’ He looks at his son and says ‘Only if you do Padmasam can you be eight years.’ Sambhav hurriedly comes down from his Father’s lap and galantly demonstrates everyone his Jois version of Padmasana, complete with Eyes closed with REM, nostril flaring in his Ujjayi breathing, and his childlike Mudra with one pointing finger clipping over a thumb. It was a sight to behold, seeing the pride in both Sharathji’s eyes and Sambhav’s display of what the Future has in store for everyone. While this is happening though, and everyone has taken their camera’s out taking Sambhav’s photo, Sharathji was correcting his son 'Straight Back!’ Sambhav comes out of it, stand up, stretches his arms and cracks his uncles through interlaced fingers. Sigh…


In reading the texts, Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad-Gītā, commentary is very important. That is how you get understanding. Who has done the commentary, that is very important.


When you find your Guru, you can ask him to give you your Mantra. Until then, keep it empty.


(via from Astanga Yoga Copenhagen)


D. Ashtanga Yoga | Article “How yoga is being diluted world over”

The spiritual aspect is missing.


R Sharath Jois R SHARATH JOIS 

The world needs yoga now more than ever before. Look at the lifestyle of people worldwide. India too is no exception. It has become fast-paced, people are in a hurry to achieve multiple things because of the competitive world. Stress is being built up inside the body. Everyone is prone to stressful life. This is where yoga is useful in maintaining the balance of body and mind, improve focus in life, sharpen concentration and enjoy a peaceful life.

I have been teaching Ashtanga Yoga, which is one of the classical forms of yoga. The bases for practicing Ashtanga Yoga are vinyasa (breathing and movement system); tristhana (three places of action) and the elimination of “six poisons” - lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride and envy. Combined together, they can contribute to longevity of an individual.

Yoga can be practiced by anyone, whether young, old, very old, healthy or sick. Even so, the way in which a young person is taught will differ in manner from the way in which an old or sick person will be taught. Therefore, each student must be considered as an individual and taught at a pace that is suitable for their situation in life.

Unfortunately, world over yoga is being diluted under the garb of modern yoga. There is no such thing as modern yoga. Today, I see yoga being practiced in gyms, combined with aerobics, and in the Western world, it has taken a completely different form. The spiritual aspect of yoga is missing everywhere. In fact, spirituality and yoga are interlinked. You cannot take away spirituality from yoga and practise it. That will not be considered yoga at all… There is a dire need to revive classical yoga in its spiritual form, which I think is the authentic form of yoga. That’s what I am trying to do, keeping the Ashtanga Yoga tradition alive before someone can lay claim over its modern version.

I am also appalled with the emergence of scores of yoga teachers and their schools with some basic and formal training. One cannot become a yoga teacher by taking up a one-month course or some certificate programme. Yoga is a way of life… A practice, which needs to be mastered by practising it six days a week rigorously in its purest form for at least three years. Now, that’s when one can claim to be a yoga teacher.

According to me, knowledge can be transferred only after the student has spent many years with an experienced guru, a teacher to whom he has completely surrendered in body, mind, speech and inner being. Only then is he fit to receive knowledge. This transfer from teacher to student is parampara (tradition) and that is what is followed at our KPJAYI.

We make sure that whoever is practising Ashtanga Yoga and intends to promote it, has to mandatorily get trained under us for three years. Only then, we authorise them to teach Ashtanga Yoga in its original form, involving the spiritual aspects. (KPJAYI authorised yoga gurus are present in over 70 countries across five continents and they owe allegiance to the Ashtanga Yoga first introduced by K Pattabhi Jois).

Yoga is integral to our lives and I cannot imagine myself not practising yoga because it is one simplest natural ways of life that helps build the overall personality of an individual. Yoga offers better health, peace of mind and tranquillity, and above all emerge as a successful individual. My biggest inspiration is my grandfather and continuing in his footsteps has been a blessing to me.

(As told to Aravind Gowda.)


E. Sharath Jois | Backbend

The backbend is an often discussed topic when learning the Ashtanga yoga practice. So you might be interested in this video of Sharath.



F. Ashtanga Yoga According To The Boss

An article about Sharath by Kino MacGregor



G. Guruji lives here

A short film aHhtanga yoga to remember Guruji



H. Sitting down with Sharath R. Jois



If you have practiced any form of Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Power Yoga, you have practiced the teachings of the late influential teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois, who brought the Ashtanga Yoga tradition as we know it today to the West. As a devoted student in this lineage, I just ventured on my eighth trip to study Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India, with his grandson, R. Sharath Jois. Back in 2005, I first studied with Sharath in his mother, Saraswati’s house across the street from the “main shala.” The living room had been repurposed into a shala and held a small number of students. Pattabhi Jois,had set the course of yoga’s direction and its future thirty years before. In preparation for Sharath’s U.S. tour I sat down with him and talked about yoga in Los Angeles and throughout the world.

Leslie: Many spiritual leaders built centers in Los Angeles to spread yoga. Do you think LA is a spiritual place?

Sharath: Only practices make it spiritual. If there are many spiritual people, it becomes a spiritual place. Why are the Himalayas spiritual? Because there are many spiritual people there who experience spirituality and who have spiritual experiences. That’s why many gurus went to Los Angeles because there were people interested in spirituality. When there are interested people who want to know [and develop] spirituality …it makes them spiritual. It becomes a spiritual place. So, maybe there is a connection there.

Leslie: Southern California was the first place your grandfather, Sri K Pattabhi, known as Guruji, visited in the United States.

Sharath: In 1975, Guruji went to Encinitas. That was the first place he went in the U.S. to teach Ashtanga yoga. Paramahansa Yogananda [also] set up his center there. People started thinking about spirituality and yoga. They wanted to learn about yoga and to discover what it is, so gurus started traveling.

Leslie: Now yoga has been re-interpreted many times. Do you see yoga as classical and modern?

Sharath: Definitely. Nowadays, it has become more physical, like how to do handstand. There is no spirituality in that. It’s just physical, how to bend your body and how to align your body, but classical yoga is about how to bring the discipline to your body and your mind, and how that discipline leads you towards spirituality. That is called yama and niyama. These are very important limbs in yoga practice. Not many people are putting attention to these. They are putting attention only to the physical aspect of yoga….there is no breathing, no vinyasa, no gazing. All these things, what we call tristana, are very important to our asana practice.

In [some forms of] modern yoga, it’s mostly acrobatics. No one knows where they are inhaling, where they are exhaling, how the posture helps our body and mind. They don’t know how our breathing helps our body, nervous system, and mind. But this is very important. Yoga is getting popular all over the world, but there are only few people who have understood yoga well, who have gone to the roots of yoga. Everything is all like a circus, just bending their bodies but that doesn’t mean that’s spirituality. I go to lots of places but there are only few people who really know what yoga is.


Leslie: What is Mysore style?

Sharath: Let me explain a led class: where we call the asana names, count the vinyasas and every student is practicing the asana at the same time. This is to improve vinyasa and have proper understanding of the system: where to inhale and exhale, and to follow the vinyasa properly.

Mysore class is where we are not counting. We are [monitoring and] trying to help the student improve in different postures. It’s not Mysore style it’s like a one-on-one style. Students are doing it at their own pace. This is called Mysore style because it started in Mysore by Pattabhi Jois.

Leslie: Practicing at the shala in Mysore reminds me of the United Nations of Yoga. Students might not speak the same language but when we do our practice together it creates beautiful energy. What do you think about the growing global Ashtanga world?


Sharath: Yoga doesn’t have any language. When there are 60 students practicing in the shala, there is no common language but there is a common thing, which is yoga practice. They are all doing the same practice, the same asanas, and even they know which asana this is, how many vinyasas. They are all doing simultaneously the same asana, in the same sequence, and that is the language that brings so much peace. Your energy, their energy, everything is mixing up and generating this huge ball of energy in the shala. So, that is very important, and that is the only language.

When they are silently doing practice, it generates a certain energy, which makes the whole environment peaceful. Silence is the only method to bring peace. Once your mind is silent then everything becomes silent and serene. The whole concept, the purpose of doing yoga is to bring silence, to bring peace to your mind.

In Mysore there are different nationalities speaking different languages, but in the practice no language is used but the energy is so high. When the energy is so high, and no one is talking, you only see equality in each and every student. It’s not that you are American, Japanese, Korean, or Australian. When this equality happens, everything is one. Yoga is also one. SAMATVAM YOGAM UCYATE (Bhagavad Gita 2:48). Where there are no emotions, no happiness, no sadness, no caste, no creed, no nationality, no discriminations, that’s also called yoga. So, becoming one is called yoga.

“Silence is the only method to bring peace. Once your mind is silent then everything becomes silent and serene. The whole concept, the purpose of doing yoga is to bring silence, to bring peace to your mind.”

Leslie: What is s Sadakha?

Sharath: A Sadakha is a practitioner who dedicates himself to the practice and the lineage. Yoga isn’t that which can be practiced by watching videos or reading books. Yoga has to come from a parampara, from a lineage, and you have to devote to that lineage and try to learn yoga. That is how the yoga should come.

Leslie: The “one-on-one” approach, done with little talking, does it help us better learn our true nature?

Sharath: In our lineage, you can’t teach in masses. We can teach, but we can’t connect to many people. We can’t understand our students unless we are teaching one-on-one. When there are too many students, we can’t reach everyone. Your voice can reach, but you can’t give personal attention to each student. Everyone has different body structures, mindsets, and flexibilities. Only when you are one-on-one can you understand the students and give what they need.

Leslie: Does this help their spiritual path?

Sharath: Spiritual path is when you get connected with your guru. When you give personal attention to a student, there’s lots of energy that flows through your student. He can feel the energy. When people come to practice in Mysore, there is certain energy here. That energy is generated by a guru. When that energy is generated by a guru, everyone will follow him, everyone will connect to him, everyone can feel his energy and try to practice in that energy. In a mass, you can’t have that same energy. It’s like going to a rock concert, you are just hearing but you can’t get connected to the singer.

Leslie: How do you see Ashtanga yoga making an impact in the world?

Sharath: There is no particular place it will make an impact. There is no one place for yoga. Many places yoga has reached, many countries, many nationalities. Yoga doesn’t belong to one culture. Everyone should practice yoga for their own well-being. Once that happens, the whole planet becomes a spiritual place. The whole planet will become totally different. Everyone will realize their own responsibility in their life towards this planet, towards humanity, so that’s what we have to think about. Yoga will give you that kind of knowledge. It’s not just physical, it’s overall how to keep your own well-being, and keeping others’ well-being. So, that is called yoga.


I. About Ashtanga Mysore Style

Her a nice little video explaining what Mysore-style Practice is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9iwfVpanv8

The Mysore style of yoga asana practice is a particular way of teaching yoga within the Ashtanga Yoga tradition as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the southern Indian city of Mysore.[1] There are some differences in this method from the usual modern way in which yoga is taught. The class is not “led” as a whole but rather all instruction is one-on-one within the group class setting. Students practice their own portion of the Ashtanga sequence of asanas at their own pace. [2] The teacher assists each student individually by giving physical adjustments & verbal instruction.

In Mysore style students learn the fixed order of asanas combining movement with free breathing with sound. Through vinyasa, there is continuity via the breath from asana to asana. In the Ashtanga sequence, each asana builds from the previous – and prepares for successive – asanas.

Each student is given their yoga routine according to their ability. Newer and beginner students tend to have a much shorter practice than do those with more experience. As one gains more strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration, additional asanas are given to the student. The sense of the word “given” in this context comes from how the practice is taught in India, where a yoga practice is something that a teacher gives to a student as a spiritual practice. In the West, people are accustomed to learning a lot of asanas all at once – such as in a typical modern “led” yoga class.[3]

Asanas are given, one by one in a sequential order.[4] The structure of the class depends on the teacher being able to keep track of what every student is doing with a quick glance. If students attempt something out of sequence, the teacher is less able to help in the appropriate way. If a student has trouble with a particular asana, the teacher can offer a modification that is consistent with the intention of the practice. One by one also means that once a student is given a new asana, they practice their sequence up to that asana, then do backbends if applicable (backbending is the climax, not a part of the finishing sequence), and then wind down with the finishing sequence. In general, the next asana in the sequence should be added/taught/learned only after obtaining stability in one’s last asana.[5]


The Ashtanga vinyasa method – as is any hatha yoga practice – is intended to be a daily practice. Traditionally, practice takes place every day except for Saturdays and full & new moon days which occur about twice monthly.[6] 

(source: Wikipedia)