The goal is to achieve a state of meditation in motion. The system of Ashtanga Yoga offers different techniques to help the mind to come to rest and to completely devote to inner attention and mindfulness. Through the activation of the life energy (prana), the energy channels in the body are purified and detoxification processes are set in motion.
There are several sequences (series) that are learned one after the other.
1st series: Yoga Chikitsa ("Yoga Therapy")
The body gets centered, aligned, strengthened and detoxified. Regular practice also helps to improve flexibility, increases lung capacity and strengthens the immune system.
2nd series: Nadi Shodhana (Purification of the Nervous System)
The second series cleanses the nervous system and can release emotional and mental blockages.
3rd series - Sthira Bhaga (She consists of four parts A, B, C and D).
Sthira means stability or strength and Bhaga means bliss, dignity, beauty.
Ujjayi breath is a specific breathing technique that is mantained throughout the practice.
The narrowing of the back throat creates a sound during inhalation and exhalation that recalls the sound of the sea. This enhances self concentration and the meditative aspect of the practice.
As with all aspects of Ashtanga Yoga, there are different levels of effect: Physically, Ujjayi breathing gives control over the breath and allows ease in difficult asanas; mentally, it helps to direct concentration inwards and counteract circling thoughts in the head; on the subtle level, the energy in the body is increased, which in turn is associated with the feeling of inner warmth.
Bandhas are energetic muscle locks in the body. The goal is to hold them throughout the practice.
On a physical level, certain muscles are contracted and this triggers a subtle process of "opening" on a mental and energetic level.
The body as a whole is stabilized and protected from injury (especially in the lower back area).
Mula means root, source, origin or base. The root lock is activated by contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. Mula Bandha serves to maintain the developed energy level and gives stability and firmness, e.g. in the standing asanas.
describes the pulling in and up of the lower abdomen (more precisely the spot that is located three fingers wide below the navel) and, like Mula Bandha, serves to maintain and direct energy. The term literally means "to fly up" and enables the feeling of lightness, especially in asanas that work against gravity.
Dristhi is a gaze point to focus on that is defined in every asana. It is a soft, attentive alignment of the eyes in a given direction and serves to draw the attention inwards and let the thoughts come to rest.