What is it?
Ashtanga literally translates to mean ‘eight limbs of yoga’ in Sanskrit. These 8 limbs of Yoga demonstrate how Yoga can be applied to every aspect of your daily life.
There are six set sequences in Ashtanga; Primary, Intermediate and 4 Advanced series. It was created by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, where he built the first dedicated Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India. Every pose in each series prepares the body for what come’s next. It is definitely an invigorating challenge for people who are looking to increase their strength and flexibility significantly. Ashtanga Yoga will help you become strong, fit, and teach you the benefit of being disciplined.
For complete beginners, it’s easy to find a Led Primary Series at studios and is taught in a regular class setting. Most classes will begin with an opening chant and are perfect for guiding newbies through this first series, but be prepared – the whole series usually takes about 90 minutes of sweating and moving until the ever-rewarding Savasana.
The more traditional way to practice Ashtanga in a studio is known as ‘Mysore style’ which allows people to come and practice whenever suits them within a set time period (usually about a 3-hour block) as they run through the set sequence by themselves.
The teacher is there to assist each person, but it is not a class where you all practice the same poses together. You go at your pace, at your level, in your own time. Basically, this means if you’re feeling tired or lazy, you can do as much (or as little) of the sequence as you want before heading home or to work!
The set sequences make it easy to practice at home and it’s even encouraged to have a home practice. Serious Ashtangis will practice 6 days a week - this means you get really strong, really fast! Some say the best way to stay motivated when practicing this often is to make it part of your daily routine; like brushing your teeth…just a teensy bit more challenging than standing in the bathroom for 2 minutes every morning and evening!
Why we love it!
The practice becomes a moving meditation once you know the poses in the set sequences. It is challenging but by the end of the practice you feel focused yet calm. You begin to understand the importance of discipline. The more you practice, the more you start to learn about yourself and build up that mind-body connection.
If you're looking for inspiration, then check out teachers like Kino Macgregor, David Robson, Doug Swenson, Eddie Stern and Tim Feldman.
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