top of page

Ashtanga Yoga vs Ashtanga Vinyasa


Too many times I see people calling an Ashtanga Vinyasa class, Ashtanga Yoga. At the beginning of my journey, I definitely did this myself, it was laziness on my part and also not understanding, ignorance!

Now more than ever I feel it is important we start to say the correct terms so people are not confused and do not mischaracterise or misinterpret different studies within yoga!


In short this is the physical practice.

Pattabhi Jois had attended various demonstrations by Krishnamacharya and at the tender age of 12 began a 25 year period of study with him. Krishnamacharya’s teaching was the vinyasa karma -the systematic method of linking breath and movement and the Yoga Korunta [ancient text orally taught].

Jois’ belief that Krishnamacharya was the only man he ever met who had full knowledge of the true methods of yoga. It is not 100% certain but it seems that Jois took what he had learned from Krishnamacharya [a counted method] and thus coined and created the naming and system of


Ashtanga vinyasa is divided into series, each one essentially a progression of the next.

Despite the absence of a text, together the two men found the descriptions of the asanas & refined them into sequences and started grouping postures [surya namaskar, standing, seated, finishing], creating the transitions between them [vinyasas], the drishti [gaze] and the pranayama [breathing] all of now we see under the heading of ashtanga vinyasa yoga.

These formed the basis of the primary [1st], intermediate[2nd] and advanced [3rd] sequences which form the third of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga [asana] as laid out by Patanjali the philosophical text The Yoga Sutras [SEE BELOW] .

It is believed that some of the other eight limbs can be achieved or experienced or practiced within a physical asana practice like pranayama, dharana, pratyahara to name a few.


This is the theory of ALL YOGA. The word ashtanga means eight members [ashta = eight, anga = limb]. Ashtanga yoga is one of the paths towards the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness.

These eight stages were described by the sage Patanjali in the famous Yoga Sutras, in the second century. They are: 

  1. zsence

Originally, the eight stages were said to be progressively accomplished. Over time, however, I think that this doesn't quite work. We all live in a busy, modern world and I believe that these stages or steps can be experienced alongside, in conjunction with, in combination with one another.



bottom of page