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Mar 15

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Ashtanga Yoga 101

Have you considered ashtanga yoga? Learn about the primary, intermediate & advanced series to find out which one is best for you! Ashtanga Yoga 101

Ashtanga Yoga is not your typical yoga system, if you choose to attend a class there will be a teacher present. However, they will not be instructing you on what pose to do next. The set of poses you will do are the same for every class. If you prefer routines, then it may be the perfect option for you.

The benefit of the routine is that it encourages a meditative state. You are not focused on what is happening around you or what pose you will be doing next, instead allowing you to focus your attention inwardly.

Another aspect of Ashtanga Yoga is parampara. This is the passing of knowledge from the teacher to the student. Ashtanga Yoga teachers can only become so after years of dedication and practice under an authorized teacher. Authorized teachers must receive the blessing of the person in charge of the KPJA Yoga Institute in Mysore, India.

It is the perfect yoga system for any yogi, from beginner to advanced practitioner, though it is described by WebMD as a more challenging style of yoga to practice. HelpGuide.org suggests that Ashtanga is vigorous yoga style is ideal for those looking for a brisk workout, as opposed to a relaxing experience.

The Primary Series

This consists of asanas that are typically seen in Vinyasa Flow class the difference is that the sequence never changes. You will begin with just half of the poses and the teacher will add more as you become more proficient, until you are able to complete the full series.

According to the KPJA Yoga Institute, the postures in the primary series build on each other, so to complete the third and fourth, you first must be able to do the first and second. The primary series is designed to tone and purify the body, bringing focus to the mind.

As the process of detoxification progresses, you may not enjoy the things that come to your mind. Therefore, while the Primary series is technically the easiest, it is the most difficult of the sequences.

The Intermediate Series

The main focus of the Ashtanga Yoga’s intermediate series is cleansing the nerves. There are variations of headstand and backbends. The latter are to preserve the spine and the back’s suppleness. Our nervous system runs through the spine, so the intermediate series opens the channels allowing the life force energy to flow freely.

It starts and ends with the same as the primary series, however the middle is different. It is considered a compliment to the first series. You should have a firm grip of the primary series before moving on to the intermediate series.

The Advanced Series

Before moving on to the advances series, you must be wholly proficient in the intermediate sequences. It requires practice six days a week and you should seek guidance from an authorized teacher before beginning this journey.

The Teaching Styles

There are two styles of Ashtanga Yoga teaching: Mysore and Led.

The Mysore style is perfect for following your breath and transitioning into a meditative state. You complete the practice at your own speed and it is all about linking your movements with your breath. The teacher is there to assist you, offering advice or tips on how to adjust your alignment. It is best explained as a personal instruction held within a group setting. The drawback is that need to provide your own motivation to run through all of the series.

The led style is excellent for people who need the motivation to get through their series. The teacher will help you learn the sequences and help motivate you. This is perhaps the best style for beginners to start their learning process. Having everyone completing the movements and breaths together also offers you the chance to build bonds with the other practitioners.

The drawback, of course, is that you are bound by the teacher’s count, or the pace that they have set for the class. You may find that their count is too short or too long for you.

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