It is undeniable that yoga has become a big part of the fitness world today. People from different age groups, races and cultures are aware of this practice that is far more than just a way to stay fit. It is a form of art, science, and philosophy. It is a practice that helps us to connect with the body and soul fully.
The significance of yoga is that one does not have to be an expert to practice this art form. With persistence and focus, one can always master this in the long run, regardless of their level of experience. If you practice yoga long enough with persistence and motivation, it will most certainly build flexibility and strength in your body, as well as having amazing effects on your soul as well.
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a traditional, energetic, and dynamic form of yoga. Popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois, this form of yoga has gathered a lot of attention among yoga practitioners. This yoga style involves a great deal of breathing followed by slightly challenging asanas (postures).
What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?
Ashtanga refers to eight branches, which help create a union among body, mind, and soul. Ashtanga yoga is considered a style of yoga that includes synchronized breathing followed by postures that will heat your body. Vinyasa has a lot in common with Ashtanga yoga but is more flexible in its sequence.
Ashtanga yoga got its origin from Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga. He developed the practice during the 1930s, combining ideas from conventional yoga philosophies with influences from the Danish gymnasts.
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a subset of Hatha Yoga. Among the eight branches of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga, the third branch is asana. Hence, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a variant of the asana section. This yoga form has now inspired many other styles of power yoga at present.
Series Of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga consists of six series and a sequence of practice. The postures or the asanas have to be followed in the same order of succession. One has to follow the different series and certain sequence of postures with utmost discipline and dedication.
• Primary series
Also known as ‘Yoga Chikitsa,’ consists of the asanas which will help in detoxifying your body. It helps to tone your body and is even referred to as a therapy to your overall health. Physically the poses in this series help in building the strength and flexibility of the body.
As mentioned earlier, mentally, this series is equivalent to therapy for your mind. If you are a beginner, start with this series of physical practice to build focus, confidence, and willpower within yourself.
• Intermediate series
Also called ‘Nadi Shodhanais’ focuses on our nervous system. This series involves yoga poses concentrated on backbends and headstand variations which would help to cleanse our nerves. The spine is the most delicate yet central part of our body.
The variations in this series will help open up your back and the energy channels or the prana to flow freely through your body. The Intermediate series in ashtanga vinyasa yoga involves more intense backbends, hip-opening poses, and headstand variations.
The poses and sequences in this series of practice of yoga are a bit more challenging than the primary series. Following this series regularly will have significant changes in your health. Since it involves few strenuous postures, end the session with an extended savasana to cool down your body.
• Advanced series
Also referred to as ‘Sthira Bhaga,’ is a much more advanced series of the ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Once you have mastered this style’s primary and secondary series, you can slowly move towards more intense practices to gain stability in your body.
Styles of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
There are two styles involved in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice, the led class, and the Mysore style. Both have a few differences for learning the yoga style but are a great way to start from the roots.
• Mysore style
It is a preferred ashtanga yoga form since the instructor would provide personalized directions. In this form, you can practice at your own pace without any external pressure. The teacher will assist you with each body alignment and will motivate you to give your best during your yoga classes.
• Led Class
You can practice the movements under the guidance of the teacher. You can synchronize your workouts with others and build a bond with them. In contrast, the only drawback of this style is that you would be expected to do the postures at a pace to match with the instructor at the yoga studio.
What to Wear When You Practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?
If you are a beginner, don’t spend much time deciding what could be worn while practicing ashtanga vinyasa yoga. You can always be dressed up in a pair of comfortable pants or shorts if you want to stretch your body comfortably.
Most yoga practitioners wear tighter pants to get the flexibility and perform the postures without any restrictions. Always keep a towel ready by your mat and stay hydrated while performing ashtanga vinyasa yoga.
Benefits of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga is about the peaceful unification of body, mind, and soul through a series of postures and exercises. It focuses on the proper alignment of your physical and spiritual bodies. Though not easy, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the type of yoga that has fantastic health benefits, making it a necessary art for life. Some benefits of this style of yoga include:
Enhanced Physical Strength
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a renowned form of Power Yoga. Many of its postures include balancing full body weight on one hand or leg, which slowly induces power. It also incorporates muscle training without any extra equipment.
It also enables you to be in better control of your body and induces stamina. It is a slow form of cardio as it involves changing postures continuously. It is one of the styles of yoga that focuses on the core muscles, the basis of strength.
In addition to physical strength, it promotes mental well-being. It has a series of breathing exercises, which help you focus and dispose of all negativity from your body. It works as meditation with some movements and postures.
It also helps better understand and control your emotions. When in a difficult situation or going through a difficult phase, Ashtanga Yoga enables you to calm yourself and organize your thoughts to better deal with the problems, as well as enabling the vinyasa flow throughout your body. This way, it ensures mental well-being.
One of the most prominent misconceptions people have is that yoga cannot reduce fat. Ashtanga Yoga is one of those forms of yoga that help in weight loss. Ninety minutes of yoga with the right sequence of poses gets you sweating hard!
It also builds endurance through long sessions and complex positions. It helps you tone your body, cut down the extra fat, and build muscle strength. Even if it does not burn fat as fast as other workouts, it makes you aware of your body which is even more critical.
It improves the flexibility of your body in the long run. It requires diligence and practice but is sure to give you results that you have never even imagined.
You mustn’t push your body beyond your strength at once, as it can lead to muscle injuries or shoulder injuries, for example. In order to avoid any risk of injury, start slow. With gradual practice, you can easily achieve the desired flexibility.
Balance And Coordination
Balance and coordination are some of the most desired benefits of Ashtanga Yoga. With its strenuous routine, Ashtanga Yoga tests you for the vinyasa flow of your body and your alignment of movement.
The less you can balance your body; the more difficult this yoga will seem to you. It teaches you to coordinate your breathing and muscle power while maintaining the balance of the body. These are the skills every human being needs today.
Tips For Beginners
As beginners, yoga seems the most difficult, even more than high-intensity workouts. It requires patience and determination without expecting any visible short-term results. Still mastering yoga means mastering your body and mind.
Here we discuss some tips for you to begin with Ashtanga Yoga or simply Yoga, for that matter.
You cannot master the art of yoga in a week or two. Give yourself time and enjoy the process slowly. Only with patience can you reap the desired benefits.
You might not realize, but with practice, you slowly get better at the art. Don’t stop if you cannot observe any improvements over a period; you will get there shortly. It can be helpful to start a yoga journal in order to track your progress.
Focus On Breathing
It is essential to focus on your breathing rather than on the poses. It is important to let the “prana” flow through you from breath to movement of your body. Proper and consistent breathing is the key to learning yoga, according to all experts and yoga teachers.
It is never late for you to start learning yoga. It is like exploring yourself from the inside. Traditional Ashtanga Yoga is quite tricky, but Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a simplified version, suitable for beginners.
Yoga is a habit for a lifetime once you learn it. With practice, make yourself better constantly and push yourself to learn more.