Ashtanga yoga is, in many ways, the polar opposite of hatha. It involves a series of intensely physical yoga postures, or asanas, in order to completely focus the mind on a single activity. By doing this, one is able to channel the body’s innate energy more effectively, both through the use of locks, or bandhas¸ and by focusing on one fixed point, a practise known as drishti.
Ashtanga is an ancient form of yoga, but it was lost for many years. It was only in the last couple of decades that the ancient Sanskrit text of the Yoga Kurunta was rediscovered by the yoga master K. Pattabhi Jois, and it is thanks to his efforts that it has become one of the foremost yoga forms of today. In Jois’s method, the asanas are followed in strict sequence, and all classes are preceded by a Sanskrit chant to Patanjali. It is not for the faint of heart or the weak bodied, and is therefore recommended as a more advanced class.