Want to know something that gets my goat? People who refer to Ashtanga Yoga as ‘Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga’.

Ever wondered what Sharath’s opinion is on the matter?

The following was first shared by Emma O’Neil who posted notes from one of Sharath’s weekly conferences this past February at KPJAYI. It was a great post and the full text is available on her blog. Check it out. It’s really good stuff.

But back to business… what follows is the relevant excerpt from that conference. To set the stage, students were asking Sharath questions.

The next question was asked starting with “In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga…” Sharath stopped the student and said, “Don’t call it Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It’s just Ashtanga Yoga. When you call it Vinyasa you make it less than it is, only focusing on one limb. Is there vinyasa in Yama’s? Is there vinyasa in Niyama’s? No. So it is just Ashtanga Yoga.”

Can’t be much clearer than that, can it? It’s just Ashtanga Yoga.

I have to admit that I felt vindicated to hear my own feelings expressed by my teacher. Particularly important was the suggestion that calling it Vinyasa devalued the practice that so many of us love and that has changed so many of our lives.

It’s also so arbitrary. Why not call it Ashtanga Bandhas Yoga, then? There are several elements that make this practice unique and effective.

I also don’t buy the confusion with Baba Hari Das argument. Maybe if it were 1999, but not today. With the omnipresence of the Internet, prospective students would know which Ashtanga yoga was being taught almost immediately. So, there’s really no confusion.

I recall Guruji once saying that Ashtanga Yoga was Patanjali Yoga and contained all of the limbs within it if practiced diligently and properly.

So my question to the Vinyasa camp is this: If Ashtanga Yoga was a good enough name for Guruji, why isn’t it a good enough name for you?

What do you think?

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