Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – a practice that I love! ❤
There are many kind of yogasana being practiced all around the globe. I have tried quite a few styles and fell in love with Ashtanga eventually. I felt so connected to the practice compared to other practices available out there. So, why may you ask that I connect more with Ashtanga style? First, I think as many other Ashtangis out there believe, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a great system, a wholistic system that combine the beauty of physical exercise with the spiritual side of our being. Through the practice, we will begin to experience the intimate connections of our physical being to our inner voices and our spirituality. Ashtanga Yoga practice might look challenging at first, but truly it is designed for everyone from the beginner to advanced yogi.
In the next few minutes, reading through this article, you will realize the beauty of this practice even more.
Ashtanga is not like any other typical vinyasa flow classes out there with teacher guiding every next few poses you go into. Ashtanga is a practice with a set of postures that will be the same for each class. The routine of this class is what teaches you to be discipline. The routine is what allows you to enter the meditative state during the practice. Instead of having to focus on the outside of what will be the next pose, you can focus on bringing your attention inward with your breath.
There are a few Series when we practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from the Primary Series, Intermediate Series, and then lastly the 4 stages of Advanced Series.
The Ashtanga Primary Series: Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga for Health or Yoga Therapy.
The basic, the most common practice available to beginners up to advanced level yogis. The Primary Series is a practice that is grounding and supposed to make you feel like coming home to yourself. You can see that most Vinyasa Flows out there consist of asanas deriving from the Primary Series.
For beginner, usually you will begin learning Half Primary and as you build upon the Half Primary, the teacher will add more poses to assist you completing the Full Primary Series. The asanas in Primary Series are so smartly designed to build upon each other as you progress through the practice. You basically need the asana before every next asana to be able to help you flow with ease through the whole series.
This Primary Series is designed to purify and tone the body, as well as to bring the focus to the mind. As you detox during the process, you may begin to notice that you may not like the things that’s in your mind and what you discover about yourself. That’s why the teachers will usually tell you that the Primary Series is probably one of the most basic, easier to learn compared to the next few series, but simultaneously the hardest as well because this is the beginning of discovering your inner truth, your inner journey.
The Ashtanga Intermediate Series: Nadi Shodhana, The Nerve Purifier
Only when you completed and are fully comfortable with Primary Series that you can proceed to the next series, the Intermediate Series. This series focus more on the cleansing of the nervous system, and cover a lot more backbends and headstand variations. The backbends consist of asanas that will help to preserve the spine and the suppleness of the back. Our nervous system runs through our spine, and the second series helps open the subtle channels so that ‘Prana’ (life-force energy) may flow freely through these channels, thus allowing the detoxification of the nervous system.
The Intermediate Series starts out the same as Primary Series from Surya Namaskar A to the end of standing postures, and ends with the same closing postures. The difference comes in the middle part, which is the sitting sequences for Primary Series, it will be modified in the Intermediate Series.
The gatekeeper to the Intermediate Series is Pasasana (noose pose), a balancing twist that looks easy but extremely challenging pose to get into (TRUST ME, NO JOKE!). Pasasana is an ego check that ensure you to hang your ego before proceeding as it will challenge you to get a reason to practice other than collecting asana trophies. Ultimately, your teacher will be the one that knows best when you are ready to begin the Intermediate Series.
The Ashtanga Advanced Series: Sthita Bhaga, Centering of Strength
I have yet to even experience this series, but as what I discovered, this Advanced Series is definitely one that needs six-day-a-week practice and be proficient in the Intermediate Series to begin. This series will definitely need the guidance from an authorized teacher. All I can say from what I read, the lesson from the Advanced Series is that we need to go through the burning of our ego & pride to be able to go through this series.
Teaching Styles of Ashtanga Tradition
There are 2 styles to receive the teaching of this amazing practice: the led class or the Mysore style class.
The Mysore style is great for the fact that you can learn to follow your own breath and move into meditative state during your own practice. In this practice, you will come in and do your practice at your own pace. The linkage of breath to movement is the core of this practice. This style is best to develop your self-discipline, self-reliability, and self-accountability. The teacher will be around in the class to assist and offer advice or to adjust your alignment.
The led class is great for new beginner to start learning the sequence and having the teacher to help motivate you. This style will get everyone to breath and move together to help you bond with other fellow yogis in the class.
Ashtanga is a definite choice of my practice because I know it is a life-long practice. It is going to always be something that I can learn from not just on the mat, but also to help me develop myself going through this life. The inner journey of practicing Ashtanga is a big challenge to me even after 2 years of practice. #practiceandalliscoming 🙂
I have always admired many Ashtangis out there as it is the most basic, traditional form of yoga practice that requires a lot of discipline and determination to carry through. I pray that the impossible will be possible to me one day soon enough. Enjoy this amazing The Impossible video by my favorite teacher, Laruga. ❤