Ashtanga Yoga and the Primary Series
Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional style of yoga that has been practiced for thousands of years. It consists of six series of yoga poses, each with a different focus and level of difficulty. The first and most foundational series is known as the Primary Series.
The Primary Series, also called Yoga Chikitsa, consists of 41 postures that are designed to detoxify and purify the body. This sequence of poses is specifically designed to clean and strengthen the body, and it focuses on building physical strength and breath awareness.
Ashtanga Yoga follows the eightfold path of Yoga, with each limb preparing the practitioner for the next. The first two limbs, yama and niyama, are concerned with ethical behavior and personal discipline. The third limb, asana, focuses on physical postures, and it is the foundation for the Primary Series.
The Ashtanga series of poses is linked together by breath, with each movement synchronized with inhales and exhales. This creates a moving meditation that brings a focus on balancing, alignment, and flexibility to the practice.
|Tadasana (Mountain Pose)||Improves posture and balance, stimulates the nervous system, and increases overall strength.|
|Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)||Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips, improves digestion, and reduces stress and fatigue.|
|Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)||Strengthens the arms, shoulders, and wrists, opens up the chest and lungs, and improves circulation.|
|Virabhadrasana A (Warrior I Pose)||Stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, and neck, strengthens the legs and hips, and improves overall posture.|
|Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)||Stretches the hamstrings, hips, and spine, strengthens the legs and ankles, and improves digestion.|
|Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)||Stretches the hamstrings and hips, improves digestion, and strengthens the legs, ankles, and feet.|
|Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)||Stretches the hamstrings, hips, and spine, improves balance, and strengthens the legs, ankles, and feet.|
|Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold)||Stretches the hamstrings, hips, and spine, strengthens the legs and ankles, and calms the mind.|
|Utkatasana (Chair Pose)||Strengthens the legs, ankles, and feet, improves overall posture, and opens up the chest and lungs.|
|Parsva Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)||Stretches the inner thighs, groin, and hips, improves digestion, and reduces stress and anxiety.|
The Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga is a challenging and invigorating practice that can have profound physical and mental benefits. It is accessible to anyone, no matter their level of physical fitness or prior experience with yoga.
With regular practice, the Primary Series can help you build strength, flexibility, and breath awareness, as well as bring a sense of calm and focus to your life. If you’re looking for a dynamic and challenging yoga practice that can help you transform your body and mind, Ashtanga Yoga and the Primary Series may be just what you need.
Beginner’s Guide to Ashtanga Yoga’s Standing Series
Ashtanga yoga is a physically challenging and dynamic style of yoga that incorporates a series of flowing postures. One of the main components of the Ashtanga practice is the standing series, which involves a sequence of standing postures. The following guide will explain the basics of the Ashtanga standing series, the benefits of each pose, and how to perform them correctly.
What is the Ashtanga Standing Series?
The standing series is the first of six series in the traditional Ashtanga practice. It consists of a sequence of postures performed in a specific order, starting with the sun salutations and moving on to standing poses such as Trikonasana and Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.
|Poses in Ashtanga Standing Series||Description|
|Utthita Trikonasana||Extended Triangle Pose|
|Utthita Parsvakonasana||Extended Side Angle Pose|
|Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, and D||Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose|
|Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A and B||Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose|
|Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana||Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend Pose|
|Virabhadrasana I||Warrior I Pose|
|Virabhadrasana II||Warrior II Pose|
|Virabhadrasana III||Warrior III Pose|
|Prasarita Padottanasana (C with Parsvottanasana arms)||Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose with pyramid arms|
|Utthita Parsvottanasana||Lifted Pyramid Pose|
|Parivrtta Trikonasana||Revolved Triangle Pose|
|Parivrtta Parsvakonasana||Revolved Side Angle Pose|
|Utthita hasta padangusthasana C, utkatasana C, virabhadrasana III, ardha baddha padmottanasana||Balancing sequence on one leg|
|Virabhadrasana III||Warrior III|
|Virabhadrasana I||Warrior I|
|Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B||Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose B|
|Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana||Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend|
How to Perform Each Pose in the Ashtanga Standing Series?
Each pose in the Ashtanga standing series involves specific movements that work to engage and stretch different areas of the body. For example, the triangle pose stretches the hamstrings, hips, and spine, while the warriors pose strengthens the legs and core.
It’s important to execute each pose with proper form to avoid injury and to receive the benefits of the practice. Beginners might find it helpful to break down the poses and learn each movement separately before attempting the full vinyassa.
Benefits of Practicing the Ashtanga Standing Series
The Ashtanga standing series offers numerous benefits to both the body and the mind. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved core strength, balance and coordination
- Increased flexibility and range of motion in the hips, legs, and spine
- Improved posture and alignment of the body
- Increased blood flow and circulation
- Reduced stress and anxiety through deep breathing and mindfulness techniques.
Ashtanga Yoga Sequencing and Postures
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and challenging form of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures. This sequence includes standing poses, forward folds, spinal twists, balancing postures, inversions, and backbends, all with a focus on breath and movement.
The practice begins with two rounds of sun salutations, followed by 13 standing poses, and then moves into a seated sequence. The seated series includes Paschimottanasana and Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana. Each asana is typically held for five breaths, and some postures/variations may be omitted for beginners.
The postures in Ashtanga yoga are generally arranged in sets or pairs, with the Primary Series consisting of around 50 asanas. The Primary Series targets the digestive system, balances the nervous system, and facilitates blood flow, leading to increased flexibility, strength, and reduced stress and anxiety.
Here are some of the key poses in the Ashtanga Standing Series:
|Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana||Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose|
|Utthita Parsvakonasana||Extended Side Angle Pose|
|Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana||Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend|
|Janu Sirsasana||Head-to-Knee Forward Bend|
Some of the other poses in the Ashtanga Standing Series include Marichyasana, Navasana, Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana, Supta Kurmasana, Garbha Pindasana and Kukkutasana, Baddha Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, Supta Konasana, Ubhaya Padangushtasana, Urdhva Mukha Paschimattanasana, Setu Bandhasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Pashimatanasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana, Karnapidasana, Urdhva Padmasana, Pindasana, Matsyasana, Uttana Padasana, Shirshasana, Baddha Padmasana and Yoga Mudra, Padmasana, Uth Pluthi, and Savasana.
Ashtanga yoga can be challenging, but it is also highly rewarding. Practicing this sequence of postures can help to increase strength and flexibility, improve digestion and circulation, and promote overall physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re new to Ashtanga yoga, it’s important to start slowly and gradually work your way up to the full sequence. With practice and patience, you’ll be able to experience all the benefits this beautiful practice has to offer.
Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy and Benefits
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient practice that dates back to thousands of years ago. This form of yoga originated in India and was recorded in the ancient manuscript called the Yoga Korunta by Vamana Rishi. The teachings of Ashtanga Yoga involve vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and yogic philosophies. This article will go over the philosophy and benefits of Ashtanga Yoga.
Physically Demanding Practice
Ashtanga Yoga is a physically demanding practice that helps build strength and flexibility. The postures, also known as asanas, are named after animals or natural phenomena that symbolize a life force quality. The advanced sequences of Ashtanga Yoga demand a high degree of strength and flexibility. The practice requires concentration, discipline, and stamina. The postures are performed in a sequence, and each posture is held for five breaths.
Balance and Healing
The Primary Series tunes the physical and energetic body to balance. Ashtanga Yoga has several benefits that promote physical strength and emotional, energetic, and spiritual healing. The correct yoga practice can release accumulated stress, becoming a profound and enlightening experience. Ashtanga Yoga helps to calm the mind, reduce anxiety and stress levels, and increase overall well-being.
The finishing sequence guides the practitioner to an energetic culmination. Traditional mantras are chanted at the beginning and end of each practice. The repeated chanting of mantras evokes a sense of spirituality and enhances the practice. The mantras, along with the physical practice, are meant to bring a sense of quietude and introspection.
Whole Body Awareness
Dedicated yoga practice has the power to bring about an awareness of the mind- body relationship to the whole, without division or duality. Ashtanga Yoga helps practitioners to connect with their inner self and cultivate mindfulness. The practice involves synchronizing breath and movement, bringing the mind and body into a state of harmony.
Learning Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding practice that follows a specific sequence of poses. There are six series of Ashtanga yoga, with most practitioners sticking to the primary series. If you’re new to Ashtanga yoga, it’s important to start with the primary series before moving on to more advanced sequences.
To succeed in the Ashtanga Primary Series, it’s essential to start small, move at your own pace, and seek guidance from an instructor or modify postures to fit your ability. It’s important to remember that Ashtanga yoga is a challenging practice that requires patience, perseverance, and dedication.
If you’re new to Ashtanga yoga, it’s highly recommended that you learn the series under the guidance of an experienced Ashtanga yoga teacher. An experienced teacher can help you understand the alignment of each pose and provide modifications to make the practice more accessible for your body.
Many students are intimidated by the Mysore style of Ashtanga yoga, where students practice the series independently with the teacher providing guidance and adjustments. However, with practice and dedication, Mysore style can be a highly rewarding and transformative way to practice Ashtanga yoga.
One reason students may be hesitant to attend Mysore style classes is that they don’t know the sequence. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you learn the sequence and alignment of the Ashtanga yoga poses. Books, posters, flashcards, and online videos can all aid in learning the sequence and refining your alignment.
However, it’s important to remember that repetition and practice are essential to remembering the sequence. Learning the sequence takes time and patience, but with consistent practice and guidance from a teacher, you can build a strong foundation in Ashtanga yoga and experience its many benefits for your physical and mental health.
Advanced Ashtanga Yoga Practice
Ashtanga Yoga is a rigorous practice that is designed to cultivate strength, flexibility, and inner peace. While the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga is challenging enough for most practitioners, some may choose to advance their practice by exploring the standing series.
The standing series is a sequence of postures that build strength and stability in the legs, hips, and core. The series is typically reserved for advanced practitioners who have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for at least two years.
|Benefits of the Standing Series||Postures of the Standing Series|
While the standing series is an essential component of the advanced Ashtanga practice, it is crucial to approach these postures with mindfulness and respect for your body’s limits. Attempting these postures before your body is ready can lead to injury and frustration.
BNS Iyengar is one of the most experienced teachers of Ashtanga Yoga in the world. He teaches the standing series with some minor differences from the original teachings of Pattabhi Jois. These differences include modifications to accommodate injuries or limitations and a slower pace to allow practitioners to explore the postures more deeply.
Regardless of how you approach the standing series, it is essential to remember that yoga is a practice of self-discovery and self-improvement. It is not about achieving perfection or mastering every posture but about listening to your body and connecting with your breath.
The Power of Practice
Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional and dynamic form of yoga that has been practiced for centuries. The Ashtanga Standing Series is the foundational sequence of postures that forms the backbone of the Ashtanga practice.
The standing series consists of fundamental positions that are designed to build strength and flexibility in the body. These postures are typically practiced in a particular order, with each position flowing seamlessly into the next.
The standing series is followed by a set of dynamic sun salutations, which are designed to warm up the body and prepare it for the more challenging postures that follow.
After the sun salutations, the practice moves on to the finishing asanas. These include the shoulder stand, fish pose, and headstand. These postures are designed to cool the body down and prepare it for relaxation.
|The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga:||The Three Main Bandhas in Yoga:|
Sage Patanjali traced the path to enlightenment through yoga in 8 stages, which are also known as the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. These eight limbs are ethical and moral principles that provide a comprehensive framework for living a meaningful and purposeful life.
It is important to learn these postures and their variations with the guidance of an experienced teacher. Modifications can be made for individual needs and abilities, and variations can be added to the practice to increase its intensity.
In addition to the postures, there are three main bandhas in yoga that can be engaged and activated to improve your practice. These bandhas are internal muscular locks that help to channel and conserve energy in the body.
The practice begins with warm-up sequences, including Surya Namaskar A and B. These sun salutations are designed to synchronize the breath with movement and to build heat in the body.
With dedicated yoga practice, we have the power to bring about an awareness of the mind-body relationship to the whole, without division or duality. As we move through the postures and sequences, we learn to connect with ourselves and with the present moment.