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Ashtanga Yoga for Beginners


What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga Yoga is a dynamic and physically demanding style of yoga that was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is often referred to as “Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.” This style follows a specific sequence of postures (asanas) that are linked together in a flowing manner, synchronized with the breath. The practice is designed to build strength, flexibility, endurance, and mental focus.

The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga consists of a set sequence of poses that become progressively more challenging. Practitioners are expected to memorize and master each posture before moving on to the next. Ashtanga Yoga places a strong emphasis on the use of specific breathing techniques (ujjayi breath) and internal energy locks (bandhas) to enhance the practice and create a moving meditation.

Mental Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga:

  1. Improved Concentration and Mindfulness: The synchronization of breath and movement encourages a focused, present-moment awareness, promoting mindfulness and mental clarity.
  2. Stress Reduction: The practice can help reduce stress and anxiety through controlled breathing and the meditative nature of the practice.
  3. Enhanced Self-Discipline: Ashtanga Yoga requires commitment and consistency to master the sequence, cultivating self-discipline and perseverance.

Physical Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga:

  1. Increased Strength and Flexibility: The practice involves a wide range of poses that target different muscle groups, leading to improved strength, flexibility, and balance.
  2. Cardiovascular Health: The flowing nature of the practice can elevate the heart rate, contributing to cardiovascular fitness.
  3. Detoxification: Sweating during the practice helps in the elimination of toxins from the body.
  4. Improved Posture: The practice encourages proper alignment and body awareness, which can lead to better posture.
  5. Joint Health: Regular practice can help improve joint mobility and reduce the risk of injury.

How Often to Practice?

The frequency of practice varies depending on individual goals, fitness level, and schedule. Ashtanga Yoga is physically demanding, and beginners may need to start with a more manageable practice schedule. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Beginners: Starting with 2-3 times per week can help you build strength, flexibility, and familiarity with the sequence.
  2. Intermediate Practitioners: Aim for 4-5 times per week to see more significant improvements in both physical and mental aspects.
  3. Advanced Practitioners: As you become more experienced, a daily practice (6 days a week, with one day of rest) is traditionally recommended to fully experience the benefits of Ashtanga Yoga and progress through the series.

It’s important to listen to your body, avoid pushing yourself too hard, and allow for proper rest and recovery. Practicing under the guidance of a qualified instructor is highly recommended, especially for beginners, to ensure proper alignment and reduce the risk of injury.

Where to Start?

The best place to start an Ashtanga practice is either in our Half Primary Ashtanga Class where the group class is led by a teacher or in beginner Mysore classes where students receive one on on one guidance from the instructor.  Either can be booked on our schedule page.  We look forward to helping you start on your Ashtanga journey!

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