What is Ashtanga Yoga Series?
The Ashtanga series is a yoga style that K. Patthabi Jois codified and popularized during the 20th century. People promote it today as the classical form of Indian yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali mention Ashtanga as eight limbs or branches, which include categories such as asana (physical yoga) and pranayama (breath).
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali also suggest that there’s a practice (Eightfold Path) that results in liberation and self-awakening. Ashtanga, as the name denotes, defines all of yoga’s eight limbs and develops spiritual and psychological health. Its focus is on predefined pose sequences that are linked through movements and breathe.
How Many Series of Ashtanga Yoga are there?
Originally, the ashtanga syllabus consisted of four series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, and Advanced B. There was an atypical fifth one called the “Rishi series.” One could do it only after the practitioner had become skilled in the first four.
Today, there are six series of Ashtanga Yoga. They include the:
- Primary series (more info here) (also called yoga chikitsa, yoga therapy, or yoga for health)
- Intermediate series (also called the Second Series, Nadi Shodhana, or the nerve purifier)
- Four Advanced Series ( also called Sthira Bhirga or centering of strength. This has the following divisions
- Advanced A (Third Series)
- Advanced B (Fourth Series)
- Advanced C (Fifth Series)
- Advanced D (Sixth Series)
Each of these series has a given order of poses and starts with Sun Salutations (or Surya Namaskara) 5 of variation A and 5 of variation B. What usually follows these stages is the standing sequence. As one would expect, progression through the series is with increasing difficulty. Also, each stage builds upon the other for preparatory purposes.
Each of these series ends with similar finishing sequence. Only the middle part has a different focus and group of asanas depending on the progression. Conventionally, yogis always practice the poses in a specific order and the teacher uses a Mysore style. This gives the practitioner a new posture when they feel they’re ready.
The primary series is a basic practice that provides the foundation for five other Ashtanga vinyasa sequences. It includes postures, a specific breathing technique, gaze points (drishti), harmonized movement with the breath, and use of bandhas.
Many believe that the primary series is the easiest of all the Ashtanga sequences since it’s the first one that students learn. However, in a real sense, it is the hardest to perfect. The reason for this is that it is at this stage that a student begins adjusting their mind and body to the Ashtanga yoga system and daily practice.
From here, it is easier to progress to the next series as your body would have adjusted to daily Ashtanga practice. It would simply involve the integration of new postures into an already established system. This is why many students spend several years practicing the primary series before proceeding to the next ones like the intermediate or Nadi Shodhana.
The sequence is a development of postures that promote strength as well as flexibility. It starts with forward bends and moves on to twists, backbends, and hip openers. These postures, together with the vinyasas between them, do build internal heat.
Can Beginners do Ashtanga Yoga?
If you’ve read some descriptions of yoga styles online, you probably believe that Ashtanga is only an intermediate and advanced yogi affair. This narrative is quite misleading to newbies who are looking forward to joining a class or style that’s right for them.
Of course, ashtanga has some advanced asanas, especially from the fourth to the sixth series. However, it’s good for you too if you’re a beginner. Whether you’re going for the led class or the Mysore style, you’ll find out that the system is suitable for everyone.
The teacher guides you through Ashtanga yoga primary series and offers modifications or adjustments when necessary. No matter your age, fitness level, or body type, the teacher works with you to get maximum benefit out of the practice. In the end, you may find your devotion and enthusiasm rising.
What you require as a beginner is a good teacher who can teach ashtanga slowly and customize the classes according to your needs. Jumping into full primary series when you’re just a newbie can cause frustrations as you’ll feel lost.
Learning the primary series slowly like in a Mysore class is the key to having a much different perspective of your practice. Learn just one or two poses each time. It makes you understand every posture better and master how to make it suitable for your body. Try this at Yogateket. We have the best teacher to help you.
What is Ashtanga Yoga Good for?
Why do yoga? Is it just for physical benefits? It’s more than that! It’s a way of life that’s all about uniting your spirit, soul, and body. If you’re longing to get all the benefits and earn the balance, consider doing Ashtanga (one of the earliest forms of yoga) at Yogateket. Here are some amazing reasons why you should adopt this style, according to YogaJournal…
- It develops physical strength since its focus is on muscle training. Its practice can rejuvenate your body and make it stronger, more controlled, and flexible.
- If you’re in need of a cardio workout, why not try Ashtanga? It can help you manage your weight, get back in shape, and stay fit with its long, slow, and deep breaths. Increase speed and your heart rate can effectively rise. As you progress through the series, there’ll be a sense of intensity.
- It can improve your focus, coordination, and balance. It builds your mind and body awareness.
- It can help you handle emotionally difficult situations properly and overcome them through the balance it brings.
- The breath awareness in Ashtanga purifies and stills your mind, relieves you of stress and allows for the alteration of unwanted behavior patterns.
- Depending on your skill and experience, you should follow a set of particular sequences. The repetition of similar poses in an exact order benefits you physically as well as spiritually. It leads to the awakening of your spiritual self.
There are many more benefits of yoga in general detailed here – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga.