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Ashtanga vinyasa yoga

This article is about a style of yoga consisting of six series founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. For the eightfold yoga
path, a system rst described in Patajalis Yoga Stras,
see Rja (Ashtanga) Yoga.
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga codi-

quence and 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 assists in postures.
Twice per week Mysore-style classes are substituted with
led classes, where the teacher takes a group through the
same series at the same time.[5]

1.2 Sequences and Series


Usually an Ashtanga practice begins with ve repetitions
of Surya Namaskara A and ve repetitions of Surya Namaskara B, followed by a standing sequence.[6] Following
this the practicioner begins one of six series, followed by
what is called the closing sequence.[6] The six series are:
1. The Primary series: Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga for Health
or Yoga Therapy

K. Pattabhi Jois teaching Ashtanga yoga with Larry Schultz, mid


1980s.

2. The Intermediate series: Nadi Shodhana, The Nerve


Purier (also called the Second series)

ed and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th


century which is often promoted as a modern-day form
of classical Indian yoga.[1] Ashtanga means eight limbs
or branches, of which asana or physical yoga posture is
merely one branch, breath or pranayama is another. Both
Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, his grandson, encourage
practice of Ashtanga Yoga - all eight limbs. The rst two
limbs - Yamas and Niyamas - are given special emphasis
to be practiced in conjunction with the 3rd and 4th limbs
(asana and pranayama).[2]

3. The Advanced series: Sthira Bhaga, Centering of


Strength
1. Advanced A, or Third series
2. Advanced B, or Fourth series
3. Advanced C, or Fifth series

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the


4. Advanced D, or Sixth series .[6][7]
age of 12, and by 1948 had established the Ashtanga Yoga
Research Institute for teaching the specic yoga practice
known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for eight-limbed) Yoga.[3] Nancy Gilgo reports that originally there were four seAshtanga Yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga ries on the Ashtanga syllabus: Primary, Intermediate,
Advanced A, and Advanced B. A fth series of sorts was
mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
the Rishi series, which Guruji said could be done once a
"Power yoga" is a generic term that may refer to any type practitioner had mastered these four.[8] Anthony Gary
of aerobically vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ash- Lopedota also conrms this.[9]
tanga yoga.[4]

1.3 Method of Instruction

Principles

According to Sharath Jois, one must master poses before


being given permission to attempt any others that follow. However, Manju Jois disagrees.[10][11] According to
The term Mysore style comes from the city Mysore, in Manjus accounts of his fathers instruction, Pattabhi Jois
Karnataka, India, where Pattabhi Jois and T. Krishnam- also occasionally allowed students to practice in a non lincharya taught. Students are expected to memorize a se- ear format.[12]

1.1

Mysore Style

1.4

Tradition

There is a lot of debate over the term traditional as applied to Ashtanga Yoga. Students of Pattabhi Jois noted,
that he modied the sequence to suit the practitioner.[13]
Some of the dierences include the addition or subtraction of postures in the sequences,[6][14] changes to
the vinyasa (full and half vinyasa),[15][16][17] and specic
practice prescriptions to specic people.[13][18]

PRINCIPLES

1.6 Breath
In his book, Yoga Mala, Pattabhi Jois recommends
staying ve to eight breaths in a posture, or staying for
as long as possible in a posture.[20] Breathing instructions
given are to do rechaka and puraka, (exhale and inhale) as
much as possible.[20] It is sucient, however, to breathe
in and out ve to eight times in each posture. [20]
In an interview regarding the length of the breath, Pattabhi Jois said, (translated quote) Inhale 10 to 15 seconds then exhale also 10 to 15 seconds.[21] He goes on
to clarify, "(As) your breath strength is possibly 10 second inhalations and exhalations, you do 10, 15 seconds
possible, you do 15. One hundred possible, you perform
100. 5 is possible, you do 5.[21]

Nancy Gilgo describes many dierences in the way she


was taught ashtanga to the way it is taught now. She
notes that Pattabhi Jois originally left out seven postures in the standing sequence, but later assigned Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana before the Intermediate Series was given.[8] She
notes that Utkatasana, Virabhadrasana A and B, Parivritta Additionally, his son Manju Jois claries by recommendTrikonasana, and Parivritta Parsvakonasana were not in ing taking more breaths in dicult postures.[10]
the series at this point.[8]
Pattabhi Jois recommends breathing fully and deeply with
She also notes that he did not give her vinyasa be- the mouth closed. He does not specically refer to Ujjayi
tween sides of the body poses or between variations breathing.[20] However, Manju Jois does. Manju Jois also
of a pose (e.g., Janu Sirsasana A, B, and C were refers to breathing called "dirgha rechaka puraka, meandone together, then a vinyasa.[8] Likewise Baddha ing long, deep, slow exhalations and inhalations. It should
Kosana, Upavishta Konasana, and Supta Konasana be dirgha... long, and like music. The sound is very imwere also grouped together without vinyasa between portant. You have to do the Ujjayi pranayama.[10]
them, as were Ubhaya Padangusthasana and Urdhva
In late 2011, Sharath Jois, the grandson of Pattabhi Jois,
Mukha Paschimottanasana.[8]
declared his feelings on the issue, stating that Ujjayi
According to Gilgo, Pattabhi Jois prescribed practicing breathing was not done in the asana practice, but also
twice a day, primary and intermediate, with no vinyasa stated that the breathing should be deep breathing with
between sides in Krounchasana, Bharadvajasana, Ardha sound.[22] He reiterated this notion in a conference in
Matsyendrasana, Eka Pada Sirsasana, Parighasana, and 2013 stating, You do normal breath, inhalation and exhaGomukhasana in the intermediate series.[8] Shalabhasana lation with sound. Ujjayi breath is a type of pryma.
to Parsva Dhanurasana were done in a group, with a This is just normal breath with free ow.[23]
vinyasa only at the end.[8] Ushtrasana through Kapotasana
also were done all together. The same went for Eka In 2014 published on YouTube, Manju Jois dodges the
Pada Sirsasana through Yoganidrasana.[8] The closing question, What is the dierence between Ujjayi breathsequence included only Mudrasana, Padmasana, and ing and free breathing?" by saying that the breathing in
Tolasana until the completion of the Intermediate se- Ashtanga should be long and deep with the sound like the
quence, when the remainder of the closing sequence was ocean. He also states that if you don't make sound, that is
between the
assigned.[8] Urdhva Dhanurasana and drop-backs were okay, too. However he makes no distinction
[24]
two
terms
and
provides
no
explanation.
[8]
taught after Intermediate Series.
Whats more, the Intermediate series included Vr- As far as other types of Pranayama in Ashtanga, the conishchikasana after Karandavasana, and the series ended sensus seems to be they should be practiced after the
with Gomukhasana.[8] He added Supta Urdhva Pada Va- asanas have been mastered. Pattabhi Jois originally taught
jrasana as well as the seven headstands when David Pranayama to those practicing the second series, and later
changed his mind, teaching Pranayama after the third
Williams asked for more.[8]
series.[15][25][26]
Sharath Jois recently produced a series of videos teaching
alternate nostril breathing to beginners.[27]

1.5

Tristhana

Tristhana means the three places of attention or action:


breathing system (pranayama), posture (asana), and looking place (dristhi). These three are very important for
yoga practice, and cover the three levels of purication:
the body, nervous system and the mind. They are always
performed in conjunction with each other.[19]

1.7 Bandhas
Bandhas are one of the three key principles in Ashtanga
Vinyasa Yoga, alongside breath and drishti. There are
three principal bandhas which are considered internal
body locks:

1.11

Mantras

Mla Bandha; or root lock at the pelvic oor (draw- 1.11 Mantras
ing in the perineum)
The Ashtanga practice is traditionally started with the fol Uyna Bandha; drawing back the abdomen, 2 lowing Sanskrit mantra:[30]
inches below the navel
Jladhara Bandha; throat lock, achieved by lowering the chin slightly while raising the sternum.

vande gur cararavinde sadarita


svtma sukhvabodhe
nireyase jgalikyamne sasra hlhala
mohantyai
bhu purukra akhacakrsi dhriam
sahasra irasa vetam praammi patajalim

Both Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois recommend practicing Mula and Uddiyana bandha even when not practicing
asana. Pattabhi Jois has this to say: (translated quote)
You completely exhale, apply mulabandha and after in- which is roughly translated into English as:
haling you apply uddiyana bandha. Both bandhas are
very important... After bandha practice, take (your atI bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
tention) to the location where they are applied and mainThe awakening happiness of ones own self
tain that attention at all times, while walking, talking,
revealed,
sleeping and when walk is nished. Always you control
Beyond
better,
acting like the jungle
mulabandha.[28]
physician,

1.8

Connection Between Breath and Bandhas

Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.


Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads white,
To Patanjali, I salute.

Sharath Jois says, Without bandhas, breathing will not


be correct, and the asanas will give no benet.[19]
and closes with the mangala mantra:[31]

1.9

Dristhi

svastiprajbhya pariplayant nyyena


mrgea mah mah
gobrhmaebhya ubhamastu nitya lok
samast sukhinobhavantu

Dristhi is where you focus your eyes while in the asana. In


the ashtanga yoga method, there is a prescribed point of
focus for every asana. There are nine dristhis: the nose,
between the eyebrows, navel, thumb, hands, feet, up, right which is roughly translated into English as:
side and left side.[19]
May all be well with mankind,
May the leaders of the Earth protect in every
way by keeping to the right path.
1.10 Vinyasa
May there be goodness for those who know
the Earth to be sacred.
In the words of Pattabhi Jois, Vinyasa means 'breathing
May all the worlds be happy.
system'. Without vinyasa, don't do asana. When vinyasa
is perfect, the mind is under control.[14]
Vinyasa means breathing with movement. For each
movement, there is one breath. All asanas are assigned
a certain number of vinyasas.[19]
According to Sharath, The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing. Breathing and moving together while
performing asanas makes the blood hot, or as Pattabhi
Jois says, boils the blood. Thick blood is dirty and causes
disease in the body. The heat created from yoga cleans the
blood and makes it thin, so that it may circulate freely.[29]
Sharath also claims that the heated blood removing toxins, impurities and disease from the organs through sweat
produced during the practice. He claims that it is only
through sweat that disease leaves the body and purication occurs.[29]

2 Sources
Pattabhi Jois claimed to have learned the system of Ashtanga from Krishnamcharya, who learned it from a text
called Yoga Kurunta by Vamama Rishi.[32] This text was
imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900s
by his Guru, Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari.
Jois insists that the text described all of the sanas and
vinysas of the sequences of the Ashtanga system.[33]
However, the Yoga Kurunta text is said to have been eaten
by ants, so it is impossible to verify his assertions.[33] Additionally, it is unusual that the text is not mentioned as
a source in either of the books by Krishnamcharya, Yoga
Makaranda (1934) and Yogsanagalu (c. 1941).[33]

REFERENCES

According to Manju Jois, the sequences of Ashtanga yoga


were created by Krishnamcharya.[34] There is some evidence to support this in his book Yoga Makaranda, which
list nearly all postures of the Pattabhi Jois Primary Series
and several postures from the intermediate and advanced
series, described with reference to vinyasa.[35]

approach. The more accomplished teacherswhose


knowledge and personalities allow them to approach their
students bodies with a degree of insight and sensitivity
often successfully embody the challenging but often eventually nurturing atmosphere at AYRI. Others (are) often
seemingly intent on succeeding in getting students into
[45]
There is also evidence that the Ashtanga Yoga series in- poses, leaving a trail of injured bodies in their wake.
corporates exercises used by Indian wrestlers and British In The Science of Yoga, William Broad's ndings on yoga
gymnasts.[36] Recent academic research details documen- injuries include a case where a patient was diagnosed with
tary evidence that physical journals in the early 20th cen- a bulge in one of the vertebral discs causing numbness
tury were full of the postural shapes that were very similar and pain as a result of her competitive edge while practo Krishnamacharyas asana system.[37] In particular, the tising Ashtanga Yoga. The patient said, I am a superowing surya namaskar, which later became the basis of athlete, and thought I could do anything... But I took
Krishnamacharyas Mysore style, was not yet considered it too quickly. I still needed to take baby steps.[46] In
part of yogasana.[37]
2008, yoga researchers in Europe published a survey, that
lacked a control group therefore limiting internal validity,
of practitioners of Ashtanga Yoga indicating that 62 percent of the respondents had suered at least one injury
3 Eight Limbs of Ashtanga
that lasted longer than one month.[47][48]
Pattabhi Jois never made a distinction between his sequences of asana and the eight-limbed Ashtanga Yoga associated with Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras. It was his belief that asana, the third limb, must be practiced rst, and
only after could one master the other seven limbs.[14][29]

However the mass media has reported injuries in


other styles of yoga equally as often as in Ashtanga Yoga.
For example, Bikram Yoga, Hot
yoga, and Iyengar Yoga have received equally bad
press.[49][50][47][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58]

The sage Patanjali outlined eight aspectsor limbs The long holds in headstand and shoulder stand, considered essential postures to an Iyengar practice, have been
of spiritual yogic practice in his Yoga Sutras:[38]
reported as being linked to serious injury in numerous
sources.[47][59][60][61] Broad had this to say: One of the
saddest and most thoughtful letters came from an elderly
4 Confusion with Power Yoga
man who studied with Iyengar in India for 16 years. His
list of personal injuries included torn ligaments, damaged
Power Yoga is a style of yoga created by Bryan Kest, in vertebrae, slipped disks, deformed knees and ruptured
the late 80s.[40][41] Baron Baptiste, a Bikram enthusiast, blood vessels in his brain.[62]
put his own spin on the Power Yoga style, and branded it.
Neither Baron Baptistes Power Yoga nor Bryan Kests
Power Yoga are synonymous with Ashtanga Yoga. In
1995, Pattabhi Jois wrote a letter to Yoga Journal magazine expressing his disappointment at the association
between his Ashtanga Yoga, and the newly coined style
Power Yoga, referring to it as ignorant bodybuilding.[42]
Yoga Journal Magazine: (scriptures).[42]

6 See also
K. Pattabhi Jois
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
Patanjali
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Media and Injury


7 References

In an article published by The Economist, it was reported that a good number of Mr Joiss students seemed
constantly to be limping around with injured knees or
backs because they had received his adjustments, yanking them into Lotus, the splits or a backbend. Tim
Miller, one of Joiss students, indicates that the adjustments were fairly ferocious.[43] Injuries related to Joiss
Ashtanga Yoga have been the subject of discussion in
a Hungton Post article[44] and a Vanity Fair article.[43]
The high risk of injury from teachers can possibly
be attributed to an over-zealous and under-experienced

[1] Ashtanga Yoga Background. Ashtanga.com. Archived


from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
[2] http://ekaminhale.com/blogs/news/
12763929-my-mysore-conference-notes-mar-9-2014
[3] Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi. Yoga Mala. New York: North Point
Press, 2002.
[4] Roberts, Sherry. Yoga Styles. Yoga Movement. Retrieved 8 January 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

[5] Mysore Style


[6] David Swenson, The Practice Manual
[7] http://www.ashtangayoga.info/
[8] http://www.ashtangamaui.com/articles-by-nancy/
[9] http://ashtangayogatherapy.com/bio
[10] http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/477116/
5091764/1261014095430/Manju_Jois.pdf?token=
%2BVAJGlnrwmABlUKlnr5OWV8el1E%3D
[11] http://loveyogaanatomy.com/
manju-jois-mini-interview/
[12] http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&
task=view&id=137&Itemid=161
[13] http://theconfluencecountdown.com/2012/01/05/
who-has-done-all-of-the-ashtanga-series-does-it-matter/
[14] Yoga Mala
[15] http://www.ashtanga.com/html/article_miller_tim.html
[16] http://ashtangayogashala.net/index.php?option=com_
content&task=view&id=98&Itemid=162
[17] Lino Miele, Astanga Yoga Book - The Yoga of Breath
[18] http://yogamindmedicine.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/
reflections-on-guruji-portrait.html#more
[19] http://kpjayi.org/the-practice
[20] pg 108, Yoga Mala
[21] http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&
task=view&id=100&Itemid=162

[34] http://ashtangayogashala.net/index.php?option=com_
content&task=view&id=137&Itemid=184
[35] Yoga Makaranta by T. Krishnamacharya
[36] Cushman, Anne. New Light on Yoga. Yoga Journal.
[37] Singleton, Mark. Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern
Posture Practice. Oxford University Press.
[38] Scott, John. Ashtanga Yoga: The Denitive Step-by-Step
Guide to Dynamic Yoga. New York: Three Rivers Press,
2000. Pp. 14-17.
[39] Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through
the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 71.
[40] Yoga body: the origins of modern posture practice by
Oleh Mark Singleton,Page 176
[41] Birch, Beryl Bender (1995-01-17). Power yoga: The
total strength and exibility workout. ISBN 978-0-02058351-6.
[42] A letter from Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois to Yoga Journal, Nov.
1995. Ashtanga Yoga Library. Retrieved 9 October
2014.
[43] McLean, Bethany (April 2012), Yoga-for-Trophy-Wives
Fitness Fad Thats Alienating Discipline Devotees, Vanity Fair, archived from the original on 12 January 2013
[44] Cahn, Lauren (3 August 2009), Five Words That Do Not
Belong In Yoga, Hungton Post, archived from the original on 28 August 2012
[45] Singleton, Mark; Byrne, Jean, eds. (2008). Yoga in the
Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives (Kindle ed.).
New York, USA: Routledge. p. 154. ISBN 0415452589.

[22] http://yogarose.net/2012/08/13/
[46] Broad, William (2012). The Science of Yoga: The Risks
the-long-and-the-short-of-it-on-the-ashtanga-breath-which-for-the-record-is-not-ujjayi/
and the Rewards. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster,
Inc. p. 123. ISBN 9781451641424.
[23] http://joisyoga.com/2013/06/16/
conference-notes-with-sharath-jois-kpjayi-march-2013/
[47] Broad, William (2012). The Science of Yoga: The Risks
[24] Manju Mini Interview 2014 on youtube
and the Rewards. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster,
Inc. pp. 133134. ISBN 9781451641424.
[25] http://www.ashtanga-yoga-victoria.com/k-pattabhi-jois.
html
[48] Mikkonen, Jani; Pederson, Palle; McCarthy, Peter
William (2008). A Survey of Musculoskeletal Injury
[26] http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&
among Ashtanga Yoga Practitioners. International Jourtask=view&id=97&Itemid=184
nal of Yoga Therapy (18): 5964.
[27] Yoga Breathing for Stress Relief with Sharath Jois
[28] http://www.ashtangayogashala.net/index.php?option=
com_content&task=view&id=116&Itemid=162
[29] http://kpjayi.org/the-institute/teachers
[30] "kpjayi.org/the-practice/opening-prayer"
[31] "kpjayi.org/the-practice/closing-prayer"
[32] Eddie Sterne, Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Through the Eyes of His Students
[33] Yoga Body

[49] http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2014/02/
dangers-of-hot-yoga/index.htm
[50] <http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/
bikram-yoga
[51] B.C. woman suing hot yoga studio for hip injury. CBC
News. 20 April 2012.
[52] Thinking of trying hot yoga? Read this rst. The Globe
and Mail. Toronto. 24 August 2012.
[53] Stephens, Anastasia (25 January 2005). The Bikram
backlash. The Independent. London.

10

[54] http://newsarchive.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/
news-198217.html
[55] http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/hot-yoga-injuries
[56] Archived copy. Archived from the original on 24 May
2015. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
[57] http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2013/05/
hot_yoga_is_gaining_popularity.html
[58] http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/12/
no-hot-yoga-for-me-thanks/
[59] Broad, William J. (5 January 2012). How Yoga Can
Wreck Your Body. The New York Times.
[60] http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/bikram-yoga
[61] Yogi Glenn Black Responds To New York Times Article
On Yoga. Hungton Post. 12 January 2012.
[62] Broad, William J. (10 January 2013). The Healing Power
of Yoga Controversy. The New York Times.

Sources
Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga Research Center. Archived from the
original on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-07.

Further reading
Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi (2002) [Originally published in
the Kannada language in 1962]. Yoga Mala. New
York: North Point Press. ISBN 978-0-86547-6622. OCLC 50567767.
Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi (2005). Sryanamaskra. New
York: Ashtanga Yoga.
Maehle, Gregor (2006). Ashtanga Yoga: Practice
and Philosophy. Doubleview, Western Australia:
Kaivalya Publications. ISBN 978-0-9775126-0-7.
OCLC 71245040.
Miele, Lino (1994). Astanga Yoga: Including the
Benets of Yoga Chikitsa; I & II Series. Rome, Italy:
Lino Miele.
Scott, John (2000). Ashtanga Yoga: The Denitive Step-By-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga. Stroud:
Gaia Books. ISBN 978-1-85675-181-0. OCLC
44693722.
Swenson, David (1999). Ashtanga Yoga: The
Practice Manual. Austin, Texas: Ashtanga Yoga
Productions. ISBN 978-1-891252-08-2. OCLC
65221561.

EXTERNAL LINKS

10 External links
International Infopage for Ashtanga Yoga: practice
series, teachers directory, source texts and more
Ashtanga Yoga - Understanding the Method, Interview with Manju Pattabhi Jois, in English and German (2009)
Ocial website of Sri K. Pattabhi Joiss Ashtanga
Yoga Institute

11
11.1

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


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Hayrettin Van Aken, Mickage52, 27century, Sudaama90, InternetArchiveBot, Yogacreative, Malabarsites, GreenC bot, Bender the Bot and
Anonymous: 185

11.2

Images

File:Anahata_blue.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Anahata_blue.svg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Mirzolot2
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Original artist: ?
File:Question_book-new.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/99/Question_book-new.svg License: Cc-by-sa-3.0
Contributors:
Created from scratch in Adobe Illustrator. Based on Image:Question book.png created by User:Equazcion Original artist:
Tkgd2007
File:Symbol_book_class2.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Symbol_book_class2.svg License: CC
BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Mad by Lokal_Prol by combining: Original artist: Lokal_Prol
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Contributors: Rei-artur Original artist: Nicholas Moreau

11.3

Content license

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0