Ashtanga yoga is a traditional system of yoga that is over one hundred years old. This system relies on the succession of knowledge from teacher to student. The teacher has the responsibility to pass down the knowledge as it was taught to him/her, to teach with noble intentions and an open heart. The student has the responsibility to strive to understand and practice the teachings.
It is important to acknowledge that Ashtanga can be practiced by everyone whether young or old, strong or weak. The format is always the same. The class begins with Surya Namaskars (sun salutations) and ends with Padmasana (lotus) and rest. As each individual learns the practice, more poses are introduced, gradually lengthening the practice. This system of yoga cultivates a personal and safe practice.
The three components of Asthanga yoga are vinyasa, tristhana and bandhas. Vinyasa is the flow of sequence of poses with the breath. Tristhana are the three places of attention: pose, breath and gaze. Bandhas are the anal and abdominal engagements that helps the body feel steady, strong and light.
For an in-depth introduction of Ashtanga, the tradition and the components, visit www.kpjayi.org
Like your Ashtanga practice, begin to understand your own anatomy one pose, bone or muscle at a time. The links below offer excellent sources of information.
Yoganatomy - David Keil offers articles on muscles, poses, injuries, breathing.
Bandha Yoga - This website offers several interesting sources: anatomy for yoga tips (free e-book)and a pose viewer.