The Ashtanga Vinyasa system is a breathing-movement system with special emphasis on the breathing part. While Ashtanga Yoga has been and still is traditionally taught through Mysore style classes, students must also attend one led class per week in India. It is in led class where students learn to incorporate the correct vinyasa method.
Ever notice a tendency in your practice to stop between poses to wipe sweat from your face, fidget with your clothes, or want to run out to make a phone call? It is because you stopped focusing on and moving with your breath and instead allowed your mind to wander. These distractions zap your energy and make it ever difficult to get through your practice. Yoga sutra II.53 says that through breath control the mind becomes fit for concentration.
Pattabhi Jois called the Ashtanga Yoga practice a “Yoga Mala,” in which the poses (or beads) are threaded onto the unbroken string of breath. The vinyasa, linking of movement with breath, teaches you how to inhale and go to this position and exhale and go to that position with little to no interruption from point A to Z. This graceful, continued movement maintains the heat of the practice for detoxification and flexibility, and ultimately hones your ability to concentrate by focusing your mind. You´ll have less tendency to check out and instead check in, move from the state of distraction to that of meditation, and ultimately into a deeper state of awareness. If your schedule won´t allow one led Full Primary class per week, I suggest you drop in once in a while and take advantage of the opportunity to learn the correct vinyasa method, incorporate it into your daily Mysore practice, and tap into the strength and grace of the practice.
Tip: In led class, follow the teacher´s cue for the breath and count, not moving before it´s called. In Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) for example, on “Ekam inhale” your hands reach to the sky, on “Dve exhale,” you fold forward, on “Trini inhale,” you look up, and on “Chatvari, exhale,” you lower into Chatturanga and stay until the teacher calls the next pose. (Feel the power of connection moving as a unit with your fellow classmates.) Incorporate what you learn into your next Mysore practice.