Practice on an empty stomach. Wait for at least 3 to 4 hours after a meal. Do not drink during the practice and wait for a minimum of 30mins after the practice.
Clothing should be comfortable and elastic. Shorts, vests and leggings are the most suitable as they allow one to see the alignment of the body. Jewellery and watches should not be worn.
Do not be scared to sweat and feel tired, focus on the breath, move with awareness (consciousness) and a steady lower abdomen. The breath combined with the movement will bring new energy, eliminating tiredness and strengthening both the mind and body.
Awareness (consciousness) of the breath is the basis of a correct practice of the asana (posture). Practice Ujjayi breathing. Keep the throat relaxed and open, and apply a slight closure of the glottis. The air that enters and exits will produce a sound; the quality of the Ujjayi breath should be gentle, deep and strong. The breath is complete when the lungs are either completely full or completely empty. A deep exhale ends below the navel. A deep inhale will expand the back and the thoracic cage, filling the area around the heart.
DRISHTI: The point of gaze is important in a correct practice of Yoga. Awareness (consciousness) and the rhythm of the breath are tightly linked by the gaze. In every asana (posture), and movements in between, there are specific point of gaze: Tip of the nose, between the eyebrows, the navel, to the palm of the hand, finger tips, toes, in front or to the side. With time, the gaze gives balance and has a relaxing effect on both mind and body.
BANDHAS (locks): During the practice one should lock Mulabandha and Uddyanabandha. Mulabandha is performed by tightening the muscle at the base of the spine, the pelvic and perineum area. Uddyanabandha is the contraction of the abdominals towards the spine, achieved by drawing the belly towards the kidneys. This stops the abdominal organs from dropping and the expansion of the diaphragm. Even though it requires years of practice before the bandhas (locks) can be controlled, they are the basis of the practice of both yoga and pranayama.
The flow between each asana (posture) is an integral part of the practice and part of the form. Always synchronise the breath with the movement and the gaze.
There is a logical sequence to the asana. Vinyasa means synchronised movement and breath. Breath is the heart of this discipline and links each asana into a precise sequence. Each asana, or group of asana, has a specific effect that is counter balanced by the previous asana, or group of asana. To accumulate the benefits, protect and balance the body, it is essential to follow the sequence.
In the method taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois the sequence of postures vary according to difficulty and effect. The First Series is therapeutic and corrects the balance (equilibrium) of body and mind. The Intermediate Series continues the work of the First Series and goes deeper, opening the Nadis (nervous channels) which are similar to the meridians of acupuncture. The Advanced series goes deeper still, increasing stillness, strength, balance and the opening of the body.
The closing relaxation is very important and is an opportunity for entering a meditative state
In the practice week there is one day of rest. Women, during the menstrual cycle, should not practice the inverted postures. Some postures are excellent for relieving back pain and lower back pain.
As described and practiced by Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutra (300 - 250B.C.) Ashtanga Yoga consists of eight limbs:
Yama - Ethical Discipline
Niyama - Self Purification (Physical and mental discipline)
Asana - Posture
Pranayama - Breath control
Pratyahara - Sense withdrawal
Dharana - Concentration
Dhyana - Meditazion
Samadhi - Conciuosness itself