“At the end of the class, I felt the peace of mind that I had been longing for. I felt the comfort emanating from my skin, as if I had come home”, Kino MacGregor, web celebrity of Yoga, founder of Miami Yoga Magazine, said about ashtanga yoga in the interview.
Ashtanga yoga are also common on yoga class schedules at gyms. What is ashtanga yoga? The following is an introduction to ashtanga yoga and what makes it different from other forms of yoga.
- Origin and characteristics
Ashtanga also called eight limbs, which derived from the eight limbs of yoga prescribed in the Patanjali Yoga Scriptures. It was created by T. Krishnamacharya. Ashtanga Yoga is known for its fixed practice sequences, coordination of movements and breathing, vulnerability, and self-discipline. It has a prescribed practice sequence, a total of six levels, each level has a fixed action and order, and the practitioner cannot change by themselves. It focuses on strength, flexibility and endurance training, especially strength and endurance.
- Main postures of the three levels
Ashtanga is a disciplined sect. Practitioner are required that they must start early in the morning, they must follow the sequence, and they must practice every day.
So you must have the determination to persevere. After choosing a suitable yoga mat, you can begin to practice Ashtanga.
Primary series is called yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy. The series has about 75 poses, starting with the surya namaskara, then standing, sitting, handstand and back bend.
Second series is called Nadi Shodana, which means purification of the nervous system. This series is introduced after students have mastered the beginner series. It follows the same progression as the primary series (sun salutation, standing, sitting, etc.), but introduces new postures and variations.
Advanced series is called Sthira Bhaga. This series emphasizes difficult arm balancing and is only suitable for very advanced students. Few students practice beyond the second series.
- Points of Ashtanga yoga practice
A few basic points of yoga need to be known, so that you can appreciate its magic. The first point is Ujjayi breath, breathe the air in gently through the back of your throat and then into your lungs. The second point is Bandhas. Bandhas means lock, which can lock the flow of the internal veins of the body, and produce a gathering force.
The next is Vinyasa, which is a unique way of stretching, combining the previous movement to the next movement. The last one is Drishti. Drishti refers to gazing or focusing on a certain point, but in Ashtanga yoga, it refers to the subtle points that the mind focuses on during the practice.
- Differences from other types of yoga
Nowadays, popular yoga fitness at gyms mainly include Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Hatha yoga. They have different postures and breathing characteristics.
Bikram Yoga consists of a series of 26 postures and is performed in a room that is artificially heated to 37-40° C. This is the same as Ashtanga yoga, which is designed to make the practitioner sweat, so as to achieve the purpose of excreting garbage in the body. Like Ashtanga, Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although, their sequence have fundamental difference.
Hatha Yoga is known for its most basic yoga postures and mild intensity. The main practice of Hatha Yoga is to control the body and breath. Unlike Ashtanga, Hatha belongs to the six limbs of yoga and is usually practiced from postures. In short, Ashtanga yoga focuses more on the intensity of the practice, while Hatha Yoga focuses on the comfort of the body.
Learning these four points and following specific sequence of Ashtanga yoga postures, I am sure you will appreciate that it is different from other types of yoga. Feel the physical challenge and mental satisfaction it brings.