Ashtanga yoga can be a challenging and disciplined practice consisting of a series of asanas linked with the breath and performed in a sequence to build a flow between movements during the 60 to 90 minutes it takes from start to finish. The regular practice of Ashtanga yoga builds strength and flexibility and improves posture. Although Ashtanga is a challenging yoga style, beginners must remember it is a slow process. The focus of Ashtanga yoga is internal cleansing, not a workout.
Ashtanga yoga, meaning "eight-limbed yoga," it incorporates the eight paths to spiritual purification that include moral codes, self-purification and study, asanas, breath and sense control, concentration, meditation and mind control. Traditional Ashtanga practice opens and closes with a meditative chant intended for inner healing, prosperity or praise.
At its foundation, Ashtanga yoga focuses on Pranayama breathing, or “victorious breath in Sanskrit, which requires the student to narrow the air passage in the throat in order to control inhalations and exhalations more precisely throughout each move. The premise of controlled breathing is that it expands the lungs to create heat within the body, inspiring a meditative state of mind.
Practicing Ashtanga yoga at home is possible because the primary series of poses do not require a lot of space or special equipment. Each pose is repeated on both sides of the body to promote whole body balance. To begin, start with 5 rounds of Sun Salutation A; the muscles start to warm-up thus avoiding injury and bringing heat to the body. Once you’ve warmed the muscles, continue your Ashtanga home practice with 3 rounds of Sun Salutation B. Always practice according to your fitness level. Work through the posture but don’t force yourself into a position that is painful.
Opening the Hamstrings, Release the Low Back
When you begin moving into your standing poses, pay close attention to stretching the hamstrings , or the muscles that run behind your legs, and opening the low back. Standing Forward Bend calms the nervous system and stimulates blood flow to the brain. Practice Ashtanga yoga primary series gently and often, without strain or forcing yourself into poses you’re not quite ready for. It's okay to bend the knees slightly in the beginning, especially if your hamstrings are tight. Remember, it’s okay to modify when needed.
Ashtanga yoga doesn’t vary in the sequence; the asanas are always the same (Some people think that doing the same sequence of postures every day is too repetitive and they lose interest. Of course everyone is different but, I have found that performing the same sequence everyday enables you to become familiar with the physical movements that you can solely focus on the breathing throughout the practice). For a beginner, teachers advise to gradually build proficiency in each pose, given the physicality involved in the series. As a beginner, it’s best to practice Ashtanga yoga 4-5 days a week before trying the 6 day a week practice. The challenge of Ashtanga yoga is cumulative – as you practice, you will find that your ability to move into more difficult asanas comes from the previous foundation work.
Are you ready to start your Ashtanga yoga journey? Getting started is easy; here's a great video for beginners ranging from 10 minutes to 60 minutes with my teacher, R. Sharath Jois (practitioner and lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, in the tradition of K. Pattabhi Jois).
All 30 Minute Sequence 30-minute Sequence 8 Limbs Of Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Ayurveda Beginner Yoga Bhakti Yoga Breathing In Yoga Chakras Dosha Evening Yoga Practice Gentle Yoga Hatha Yoga Hip Openers History Of Yoga Home Yoga Insomnia Learning Sanskrit Lotus Pose Mantras Meditation Meditation For Beginners Meditation For Children Meditation For Sleep Moon Salutations Morning Yoga Om Mantra Partner Yoga Patañjali Pillars Of Yoga Practice Of Yoga Pranayama Prenatal Yoga Restorative Yoga Setting An Intention Shoulder Openers Sun Salutations Types Of Yoga Ujjayi Breathing Yama And Niyama Yin Yoga Yoga And Meditation Yoga At Work Yoga Benefits Yoga Blocks Yoga Breathing Yoga Diet Yoga Exercise Yoga For A Cold Yoga For Adrenal Fatigue Yoga For Arms Yoga For Babies Yoga For Baby Yoga For Back Pain Yoga For Beginners Yoga For Better Posture Yoga For Fertility Yoga For Glowing Skin Yoga For Hamstrings Yoga For Health Yoga For Heartburn Yoga For Insomnia Yoga For Lower Blood Pressure Yoga For Men Yoga For New Parents Yoga For Pain Yoga For Spine Yoga For Stress Yoga For Stress Relief Yoga For The Ankles Yoga For Two Yoga Injuries Yoga Inversions Yoga Nidra Yoga Poses Yoga Poses For Beginners Yoga Poses For Men Yoga Questions Yoga Retreats Yoga Sequence Yoga & Spirituality Yoga Sutras Yoga Tips