Ashtanga yoga is a form of yoga that aligns both breath and movement in synchronization of asanas (poses) into a rigorous flow sequence. The name Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga stands for the eight limbs mentioned in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs are Yama (moral observance), Niyama (inner integrity), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (contemplation). In most studios and gyms, Ashtanga yoga is referred to as Vinyasa or Power yoga.
How Is It Done?
The complete Ashtanga series of poses takes approximately 90-120 minutes to complete in entirety. It is composed of 75 different postures including but not limited to sun salutations (both surya namaskara A and B), standing postures, seated postures, inversions and backward bending. Finally, each class ends with relaxation.
The benefits of Ashtanga yoga are seemingly endless. They include detoxifying the body, increased strength and stamina as well as improved flexibility and a healthy spine. Another primary benefit of Ashtanga yoga is to cleanse and purify internal organs to eliminate unnecessary waste. It is just as calming for the mind as it is for the body so there are numerous relaxation and stress-relieving benefits as well.
What to Expect in Class
In class you can expect a somewhat fast-paced sequence of postures that are timed to specific breathing sequences. Ashtanga classes usually run between one and two hours long and are available at a variety of levels. Teachers will give specific instructions for what to do, so as long as you are able to listen and follow directions, there is nothing to be intimidated about. Yoga is a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. Postures can be modified based on skill level. Expect to sweat, move, stretch and breathe deeply and then leave feel rejuvenated and refreshed.