What is Ashtanga yoga? 

Ashtanga yoga is a form of yoga in which you focus on the flow of one yoga pose to the next. In this yoga, you have to repeat the same yoga poses, in the same order, for the same number of breath counts. 

Other forms of yoga such as Vinyasa yoga and power yoga also focus on the flow of yoga asanas but Ashtanga yoga differs in the way that it requires high discipline and low flexibility. The discipline actually helps in stabilizing your mind and mood. 

One full routine of Ashtanga yoga is called the primary series. This series lasts for about one and a half hours and every movement must include three things: corresponding inhale, exhale, and a visual focal point (also known as Drishti). 

What are the benefits of ashtanga yoga?

Ashtanga yoga for beginners can be a little tough as it requires patience and discipline. Despite that, it is getting popular by the day since there are a lot of benefits of Ashtanga yoga. Here is a 

list of some benefits that you get when you perform Ashtanga yoga:

1. Calms Your Mind

Ashtanga yoga sequences include controlled movements, flowing breath patterns, and Drishti. All these things have the cumulative effect of increasing your concentration, calming your autonomic nervous system, and controlling the heart rate. 

2. Improves Your Overall Well-Being

Apart from giving you physical health benefits, Ashtanga yoga postures also improve your overall well-being. Doing this yoga even twice a week can have a positive impact on your self-esteem. 

3. Increases Leg Muscle Strength

Even scientific studies done on the effects of Ashtanga on human bodies have shown that doing Ashtanga yoga asanas regularly can increase muscular strength. 

4. Promotes Mindful Eating

People who do Ashtanga yoga are found to incorporate mindful eating in their daily routine as compared to those who do not perform Ashtanga yoga. Mindful eating is a healthy alternative to regular dieting where you do not engage in other activities but focus on your hunger and food only.

5. Relieves Pain 

By doing Ashtanga yoga postures, you can get relief from chronic pain. In fact, its efficiency in relieving such pain is found to be close to physical therapy. 

What are some Ashtanga yoga poses & step-by-step guides? 

As we mentioned earlier, a full session of Ashtanga yoga is called the primary series. You have to exhale when you enter into an Ashtanga yoga pose and hold the pose for five breaths.

Here are some Ashtanga yoga poses to add to your workout at home:

1) Forward Bend

Steps involved in Forward Bend:

  1. Stand straight, keep your feet at a hip-wide distance, and parallel to each other. 
  2. Bend your body from the hips and try to touch the ground right next to your feet. 
  3. While doing this yoga pose, fix your eyes on your nose tip. 

Note: Most people who have never tried even yoga for beginners are not flexible enough to touch the ground. However, they are able to touch the ground within weeks of continued practice of Ashtanga yoga steps. 

2) Extended Triangle 

Steps involved in Extended Triangle:

  1. Stand straight and place your feet at a distance of 3.5 to 4 feet to each other. 
  2. Turn your right foot outside and the left foot slightly towards the left foot. 
  3. Stretch out your arms to make a T shape with your body. 
  4. Bend your body from the hips, lean towards the right and reach your right toe. 
  5. Meanwhile, fixate your eyes on your raised hand. 

3) Extended Side Angle

Steps involved in Extended Side Angle:

  1. Stand straight and place your feet at a distance of 3.5 to 4 feet to each other. 
  2. Turn your right foot outside and the left foot slightly towards the left foot. 
  3. Now, bend the right knee and make a 90 degrees angle between your leg and torso. 
  4. Bend your body on the right side and place the right hand on your right thigh. 
  5. Raise your arm over your head making it parallel to your body. 
  6. While doing the pose, fixate your eyes on the left hand. 

4) Wide Legged Forward Fold 

Steps involved in Wide Legged Forward Fold:

  1. Stand straight and place your feet at a distance of 3.5 to 4 feet to each other. 
  2. Lean forward, bending your body from the hips. 
  3. Move your hands behind your back. You should be able to lace your hand fingers. 
  4. Bend forward and try to push your head as close to your body as possible. Meanwhile, you have to keep your back straight. 
  5. When you bend down, your hands will hang over your head. 
  6. Fixate your eyes on your nose top while holding this yoga pose. 

5) Intense Side Stretch

Steps involved in Intense Side Stretch:

  1. Stand straight with your right foot ahead of your left foot at a distance of 2.5 to 3 feet. The feet should be hip-width apart from each other. 
  2. Now, bend your body from the hips. 
  3. Keep your back straight and try to reach towards the ground. 
  4. You can reach either the left or right side of your right foot using both hands. 
  5. While doing the pose, fixate your eyes on the toes of your front foot.

What is the difference between vinyasa and ashtanga yoga?

As we touched upon this point earlier, the main difference between the two types of yoga is that vinyasa yoga is flexible where you can vary the yoga asanas and the time period for which you do them. On the other hand, Ashtanga yoga is a little rigid with a set of specific yoga poses where you can not even change the Ashtanga yoga sequences or the time period of the yoga asanas. 

Precautions And Safety Points

  • Always practice Ashtanga yoga poses with proper form and techniques.¬†
  • If you have a serious medical condition or an injury, it is better to consult your physician before you practice Ashtanga yoga asanas.¬†
  • If you want to modify Ashtanga yoga poses according to your need, do it under the guidance of a yoga expert.¬†

‚ÄćConclusion

Yes, it is true that Ashtanga yoga demands flexibility and strength but it also rewards you with a high level of concentration and overall well-being. Start Ashtanga yoga for beginners right away to experience the results yourself. 

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Posted 
June 17, 2022
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