Ashtanga Yoga, as the name suggests, is the royal eightfold yoga, standardised by the yoga sutras of Patanjali. This yoga practice is performed in eight sequential steps. It is translated as "Eight-limbed Yoga" that employs a multitude of techniques involving moral and ethical guidelines, breathing, concentration and meditation. Ashtangna is a dynamic yoga practice that synchronizes breath and movement to get internal heat to purify the body.
How to start Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga deals with a sequence of steps that should be done without any breakage, otherwise the results will not be as expected. These steps are to be performed slowly as it requires a sufficient amount of time for the body to accept the healing power of the postures. It has many principles that one must take care of while performing the methods.
If you are wondering how to start Ashtnga Yoga, then at first, you need to completely understand what Ashtnga Yoga is all about. This form of yoga is quite different from that of the gentle practice of restorative yoga. It is considered to be one of the most high-profile yoga practices today. Commoners to celebrities, all have been practicing this form of yoga owing to several benefits it offers.
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga in steps
Practice of Ashtanga Yoga has gained a lot of popularity because of its design structure. While practicing Ashtanga, it lets you sweat a lot and also helps you to get lean and mean muscles. Variations like Power Yoga and Flow Yoga have evolved, which is often taught in gyms and health clubs.
Ashtanga Yoga is said to be the yoga of the limbs. The name Ashtanga is derived from ashta (eight) and tanga (limb) and thus it means the practice of eight limbs, each practice supports the other. In this form of yoga, synchronization is the key; with each limb or practice synchronizing with the other.
In order to achieve the eight limbs synchronization, one has to learn the practice of:
- Close observations
- Good posture
- Controlled breathing
- Complete absorption in meditation
- Withdrawing from distractions, and
- Bringing everything into harmony.
Practice six days a week
If you choose to begin with Ashtanga Yoga then it is recommended to practice for six days a week. In the traditional method, six day a week practice was meant to be done in the 'Mysore Style'. In this practice, you are taught to follow your own breath and movement. It is named after the city of Mysore, where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga Yoga lived and taught yoga for his entire life. This practice is the safest and best way for the students to practice.
Memorizing the postures
While practicing Ashtanga Yoga, it is important to memorize all the postures as it will allow the students to focus internally. If you do not know what to do next while performing yoga, then you are most likely to pay attention to your teacher rather than within yourself. However, if you memorize the sequence of postures taught by your yoga teacher then you can focus more within yourself that will further transfer the entire practice deeper into subconscious level. Practicing in Mysore Style, you can have days where you can take your practice easily and be gentle with it. At times, you can take it a bit seriously and carry your practice deeply while performing the postures.
Mystore style of Ashtanga Yoga
The Mysore Style is a natural variation that prevents you from getting any injury, trains you to be more attentive to the body and increases awareness related to your inner body. Moreover, practicing in Mysore Style is the only style in which we can safely learn the most advanced postures of all Ashtanga Yoga series. Do not try these postures casually just for entertainment purpose as you can get hurt if not well-acquainted with the postures. The advanced postures of this form of yoga are Magical and Intense, which are much lauded and command the respect that only a devoted Mysore Style practice can offer.
Learning the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga
The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga offers flexibility and strength with an aim to prepare you for some of the first step postures in the practice. Logic of primary series of Ashtanga Yoga is best understood in the setting of Mysore Style. To learn how to start Ashtanga Yoga, learning Ashtanga primary series is important as it is considered to be the gateway to the practice.
Here, we are mentioning some of the postures with which you can start your practice.
- Sun Salutation: This posture focuses at both balancing and warming up of the inner fire. Practicing sun salutation opens the hamstrings, stretches and strengthens the back, boosts core development and purifies the entire body
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: This is a standing posture where you need to balance your body on one leg. You need to lift your leg with its own strength, bend forward, suck in your lower belly and rotate your hip joint externally. Once you are comfortable with this posture, you can easily perform it
- Marichyasana: There are four Marichyasana postures requiring a series of binds. In these postures you form the binds by clasping your hand either behind your back or around your leg in a twisted posture. The postures in this section are aimed at developing your internal strength and flexibility required to perform these postures with ease
- Supta Kurmasana: This posture helps in the grand build up of the primary series. In this posture, internal strength, external rotation and forward bending are challenged highly to test the alignment, inner strength and flexibility