Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga students are expected to memorize a sequence and to practice in the same room as others without being led by the teacher. The role of the teacher is to guide as well as provide adjustments or assist in postures. In other locations, led classes are taught twice per week in place of Mysore style classes, and the teacher will lead a group through the same series at the same time. The led classes were only introduced in K. Pattabhi Jois’s senior years. Usually an Ashtanga Vinyasa practice of asanas begin with five repetitions of Surya Namaskara A and five repetitions of Surya Namaskara B, followed by a standing sequence. Following this the practitioner progresses through one of six series, followed by a standard closing sequence.
The six series are:
The Primary series: Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga for Health or Yoga Therapy.
The Intermediate series: Nadi Shodhana, The Nerve Purifier (also called the Second series)
The Advanced series: Sthira Bhaga, Centering of Strength
Advanced A, or Third series
Advanced B, or Fourth series
Advanced C, or Fifth series
Advanced D, or Sixth series.
There were originally four series on the Ashtanga Vinyasa syllabus: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, and Advanced B. A fifth series of sorts was the “Rishi series”, which Pattabhi Jois said could be done once a practitioner had “mastered” these four.
Method of instruction
Further information: Mysore style
According to Pattabhi Jois’s grandson R. Sharath Jois, one must master poses before being given permission to attempt others that follow. However, Pattabhi Joi’s son Manju Jois disagrees; in his view, students were occasionally allowed to practice in a non-linear format.
In the 21st century, a “new generation” of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga teachers have adopted Sharath’s new rules, teaching in a linear style without variations. Practice takes place in a strict Mysore environment under the guidance of a Sharath-approved teacher. How-to videos and workshops, detailed alignment instructions and strength-building exercises are not part of the method, neither for the practitioner nor for the teacher. However, most teachers who claim to have been taught by Sharath teach the above methods, exercises, and postures.