Among most Western would-be practitioners, yoga has gained a reputation for promoting peace and calmness. But what about those who want to enjoy the physical benefits of yoga with a more vigorous, stimulating practice? Ashtanga yoga can be a perfect fit. This highly structured practice involves challenging sequences that are ideal for those seeking a rigorous yogic practice. Still wondering just what is ashtanga yoga? Keep reading to learn more about this modern take on more classical yoga styles.
Understanding Ashtanga Yoga
While classical yoga has its roots in ancient India, ashtanga yoga is a much more recent development. Ashtanga yoga was introduced in 1975. Considered one of the more energetic yoga forms, it emphasizes synchronized breath and movements. If it sounds a lot like vinyasa, it’s with good reason. Ashtanga is considered a branch of vinyasa yoga. Ashtanga yoga emphasizes:
Tristhana – literally “three places of action,” referring to the physical elements of poses
Vinyasa – best described as a system of breathing and movement
What to Expect in an Ashtanga Yoga Class
Ashtanga emphasizes structure. Unlike other yoga styles that may be more spontaneous, ashtanga depends on a specific set of asanas – or poses – done in a set order. Expect your ashtanga yoga class to incorporate an opening series, a main series, a back-bending sequence and a finishing sequence. Classes will focus on one of six series of asanas, chosen based on the skill of the students. Whichever series is the focus, expect your ashtanga yoga class to feature flowing movements coinciding with inhalations and exhalations.
Should I Take an Ashtanga Yoga Class?
Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous practice known for warming the body and creating energy. Movements are done in a constant flow at a swift pace. These features make this practice most ideal for yogis looking to tone muscles and improve flexibility. Those interested in a more restorative practice might find a hatha yoga class to be a better fit. If building muscle tone and flexibility while gradually perfecting movements appeals to you, give one of our ashtanga yoga classes a try!