14. Ashtanga yoga : Overview

Many yoga studios offer Ashtanga lead classes, which means that a teacher leads the class and teaches the students in the order of poses in primary and secondary school. Ashtanga Yoga is practised in the Mysore style, and the leading Ashtanga course is very popular as students can practice all poses simultaneously.

Ashtanga Yoga is great if you want to focus your yoga practice on strengthening and physical health. Ashtanga has all the benefits of regular yoga practice such as strength, flexibility, stress management, and inner peace. This style of yoga focuses on muscle training to develop physical strength. Practicing this style rejuvenates the body and makes it stronger, firmer, more flexible and more controlled.

Ashtanga Yoga focuses on breathing postures and meditation. It also integrates aspects of traditional yoga that are left over from vinyasa classes, such as singing, ujjayi and breathing. This ensures a holistic health benefit which includes spiritual rejuvenation as well. Mental well being is essential for a better life and thus, holistic health practices is essential for us.

Ashtanga Yoga focuses on a powerful physical practice that involves a series of poses connected to the breath to form a continuous sequence. Ashtanga Yoga is rooted in Vinyasa, a flow of postures that focuses on the energy of the breath. Having a good deep breath helps us control stress. This is a common tip we used to practise. Ashtanga Yoga helps in this kind of balancing the mind. A complete balance over your mind helps you gain holistic health throughout your life.

Another advantage of Ashtanga is that you can move at your own pace and level. In an Ashtanga yoga practice, students go through a series of asanas with fast transitions and shorter holds than in a Hatha class. It is a more dynamic and athletic form of Hatha Yoga and consists of six steps without a fixed order of posture.    

Ashtanga yoga emphasizes some principal components: Tristhana (three locations), attention to the physical aspects of poses and Vinyasa (sharaths, defined as the system of breathing and movement). The Primary Yoga Series, Chikitsa, is a practice that aims to reset the physical body. In the series that follows the practitioner begins to work on meditation in sitting, pranayama in sitting and the body at a deeper level.  

Ashtanga yoga practitioners can rationalize their attention and focus on the inner aspects of yoga without the physical disrespect of the heated and pumping “vinyasa” (if that is your preferred practice style ) that serves different purposes for different people. By practising this style of yoga, you can find a balance between feelings and emotions. It can help you to deal with difficult situations, to process and overcome pain and suppressed emotions. 

Practising the second series of Ashtanga Yoga means that you have established a dedicated daily practice. Practitioners progress through the more complicated series over a period of years or even decades, but the goal of Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga is not to learn the most difficult asanas but to learn how to maintain inner focus through the practice. Vinyasa Power Yoga classes emphasize the connection between breath and movement and do not follow the same specific sequence of poses as Ashtanga classes.    

According to the Patanjali Yoga Sutra, this practice is called the eightfold path that leads to self-awakening and release. Ashtanga Yoga is a yoga system written by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript that purports to contain a list of many different asana groups from the original teachings of Vinyasa, Drishti Bandhas and Mudra philosophy (Jois 2002, XV ). The Ashtanga system stresses the eight limbs of yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutra of Malaspina and is intended to serve as a practice for a meaningful and holistic health life.   

Kenneth Bennett

Atticus Bennett: Atticus, a sports nutritionist, provides dietary advice for athletes, tips for muscle recovery, and nutrition plans to support peak performance.