Ashtanga Yoga is the eight limbs of yoga practice which is given by Maharshi Patanjali in his text YOG SUTRA for yoga seekers. This 8 limbs of practice called ashtanga yoga - is an effort to know the self.
No any Asana are mentioned in this practice given by Maharishi Patanjali nor is any Asana been used as a medium to know the self. But yes it is one of the tool which has to be mastered in order to go further in Yoga journey.
Maharishi Patanjali described the eight types of purification for attaining the higher self or enlightenment.
And it is a practice that leads to higher level of spiritual growth by Purifying the body and mind. These practices are:
As you can see, Asana is one of the practice of eight limbs given by Maharshi Patanjali. other practices are as important as the practice of Asana in Yoga journey.
Meaning of Ashtanga Vinyasa
Nyasa- to move
Vi - special
Vinyasa is spatial movement of energy (Special expansion of energy in body called vinyasa). Tools are needed for any work. And when it comes to energy expansion in ashtanga vinyasa practice. Asana, pranayama and Dharna have been used as a tool. And these three tools in Ashtanga later became Important pillars of Ashtanga vinyasa practice called (TRISTHANAM)- three places to focus.
Asana- Movement of body
Pranayama- Movement of breath
Dharana- Drishti (Movement of mind)
(These are three important areas to focus during the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa)
(Special movement of body breath in mind call Astanga vinyasa.)
History of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga:
By introducing the word Asana as described by Maharishi Patanjali, the yogis observed various kind of conditions of the body in order to keep the body healthy and steady for Meditation.
And so tradition continued to expand and the various asanas were built.
In the same Hatha Yoga tradition a Yogi was born in 1888 who was named TIRUMALAI KRISHNAMACHARYA. Who have carried the ancient traditional yoga practises to the people and explained them the new art of living a healthy life. (For his noble work he later come to be known as the father of modern yoga)
He arranged the Asana of Hatha Yoga in a series which he discovered from the ancient Yoga text “YOGA KURUNTA”, And later he named this special practice “VINYASA KRAMA”, KRAMA means sequence or flow.
So the meaning of vinyasa Krama is- “special sequence of Asana”.
In this particular types of Asana practice, we expand the Prana by keeping the mind breath and body in a constant direction. He carried this particular kind of practice to the world for many years and shared yoga secrets to people. In his yoga journey many of his disciples were formed, One of them was K PATTABHI JOISE. Who later dedicated his whole life to expend this special practice of vinyasa Krama To many others.
He later dedicated his whole life to this practice in teachings and gave new name as - “ASHTANGA VINYASA,” which is taught in South India by his daughter R Saraswathi Joise, and his grandson R. Sharath Joise.