“Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna” by Sharath Jois (book review)

“Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna” by Sharath Jois (book review)

by | 28. Nov. 2020 | -English Blog-Post, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Book reviews, Buchbesprechung, Yoga philosophy

Originally, I intended to write this blog only in German, as it is about the translation into German of an Ashtanga book that has already been around for a few years. Why would I write in English about a book in German?

Upon second thought, I decided to write about the book anyway, for two reasons:

1) It is authored by the current lineage holder for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Sharath Jois.

2) It is the most concise overview over the approach of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in book form currently available.

Obviously, this blog will mainly be of interest for you if you are already a practitioner of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Sharath Jois is the grandson of  Patthabi Jois who established Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Since Patthabi Jois’s death in 2009, Sharath is considered to be the most authoritative teacher of Ashtanga Yoga, the Paramguru (highest guru, e.g. teacher). His book is called Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna (see below for the meaning), and it was first published in 2013 and in a slightly modified version in 2016.

What I like most about Sharath’s book is its minimalistic approach (brevity is the soul of wit ?). In 92 pages, you can find the exact vinyasa count for all of the positions of the Primary Series. In addition, the book explains the meaning of Aṣṭāṅga Yoga as a philosophical concept, the tristhāna method (the combination of body position, breathing and gazing point), some therapeutic exercises and a few mantras, including the opening and closing mantra.

Katharina Krank of the Ashtanga Yoga Studio Freiburg has translated the book into German (101 pages). The German version is at least as good as the English original in terms of quality of print.

If you want to order the book in German, you can do so directly on the website of the Ashtanga Yoga Studio Freiburg at a price of 25 € plus 1,90 € for mailing expenses. The studio is offering a discount – if you buy 5 copies, you save 2 € per copy and 3 € per copy if you order 10 copies.

The 9  vinyāsa of the first sun salutation (sūrya-namaskāra A)

Drawings (“yoga glyphs”) with kind permission of John Scott

If you are relatively inexperienced  in Ashtanga Yoga or came upon this blog by coincidence but are interested to learn more, some additional information:

What is the „vinyasa count“?

 In Sanskrit, vinyāsa can be translated, for instance, as putting or placing down, movement, position (of limbs), attitude, putting together, connecting (words etc.)” (source: dictionary of Monier Williams). 

 In the Ashtanga Yoga method, vinyāsa has two meanings:

  • an „exact position“, including the correct direction of the breathing (in- or exhale) and the gazing point,
  • the transition between two postures (in Ashtanga Yoga, through the vinyāsa all postures are linked to one another like pearls on a string, in a firmly defined choreography).

 „count“ means exactly that: „counting“.

 During the led classes – if they are taught in the traditional way – the teacher calls the name of the āsana and then counts the different vinyāsa of the postures. For instance, the first sun salutation has 9 vinyāsa (not counting the starting and the end position samasthitiḥ) and the second sun salutation 17.

More inner wisdom

Last but not least, regarding the title of the book: Anuṣṭhāna. Sharath uses the word in the sense of „practice“ and relates it to Yoga Sūtra 2.28:

 „yogāṅgānuṣṭhānād aśuddhi-kṣaye jñāna-dīptīr-āviveka-khāteḥ

“Upon the destruction of the impurities through the practice of the limbs of yoga the light of knowledge grows to discriminative discernment.” (my translation, words and letters in gray added in the translation for sake of clarity)

 May your practice support you in feeling and intensifying this light of knowledge inside of you more and more.

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