Is Ashtanga the wrong name for Guruji’s asana practice?

Guruji famously described Ashtanga as follows: “Ashtanga yoga is Patanjali yoga.”

I saw the following floating around the Internet (Facebook, to be precise). I don’t know the origin or anything behind the intent.


I am writing this to anyone who is involved with Ashtanga Yoga which was created by Mr. P. Jois. I am a yoga instructor and myself and others feel that this name confuses students of yoga.

This message is for anyone involved in the system of Mr. P. Jois, this is not proper.
This name should be given up. It serves to confuse yoga aspirants. Well, if you do not understand just pass this on to other practitioners of the systems set up my Mr. P. Jois. Choose another name! This confuses students of yoga.

Astanga Yoga was given by The Supreme Lord to Maharishi Patanjali and all yoga systems taught in the world today are based on this 8 stepped system. When Mr. P. Jois chose this name he took a name which belonged to the Great Sage Patanjali. This is not correct it lacks integrity, so I am requesting that this name be renounced. All yoga is based on this system. Mr. P. Jois should have chosen another name! + Why don’t you call it the Jois System of Yoga
This would make more sense. It is not proper to take the Great Sage Patanjali’s System. This is not proper.

Chandresh Binduprasad”

My initial reaction was: How silly. No one is going to be confused by this, and I don’t think Patanjali is going to make a claim at this point (even taking reincarnation into consideration).

Plus, I’ve always liked the Guruji didn’t put his name to the yoga, ala Iyengar or Bikram. (You can probably make the leap that I’m not a big fan of the name “Jois Yoga” on the studios that are popping up.) And there’s the notion — however much you want to give it credence — that Guruji didn’t “create” Ashtanga but found it in the Yoga Korunta.

But I do sort of get the idea behind it: If you look at it narrowly, Ashtanga is just asana — just one of the eight limbs. (I think we all know it’s more, unlike a flow class or similar, right?)

My own sense, though, is that Guruji saw this asana practice as fitting into the “yoga” as taught by Patanjali — and we all know that Patanjali barely mentions asanas.

In short, no harm, no foul. But that’s me.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “Is Ashtanga the wrong name for Guruji’s asana practice?”

  1. I think Pattabhi Jois was a marketing genius in calling it Ashtanga. And yes, these days it is customary to call it “ashtanga vinyasa in the tradition of Jois”… however, for all I know the shala in Mysore is still called the “Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute”, and I love it.

    Ashtanga appears in chapter two of the sutras AFTER a practitioner has cleared his problems and issues with the world and has attained a relative level of peace, then, if serious he is ready for the 8 limbs or ashtanga.

    Sharath makes reference to the fact that in the intense asana we do all sorts of cleansings, and is beginning to teach pranayama.

    I believe the goal of the institute IS to cover the 8 limbs they already teach chanting and Sharath gives pointers about yamas and niyamas (1st and 2nd limbs) in pretty much every conference. The shala also teaches chanting and offers courses on the Yoga sutras.

    Issue with them is they grew too fast. Which to me it indicates “something works”! Point in case, Sharath is building a new house near the shala (like 4 steps away) where he will be living and the current shala (where they are housed now) will be dedicated in full as the institute…

    I believe changes are coming. And I love that the system should be called Ashtanga, just like Jois called it.

    1. Claudia — first off, of course, are hopes you are feeling better and better.

      I wonder if you got this note I referred to; it seems like you might be a smart target for the guy. I wonder how extensive it is, or if if it just one loan guy.

      All your points on Astanga are right on; I can attest to its not just being one of eight limbs! They all are connected to the same tree, so to speak.


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