What Is Ashtanga Yoga?

Yoga is a very dynamic form of exercise. There are so many different types of yoga, poses and positions, that it can be very overwhelming.

What Is Ashtanga Yoga

If you are interested in trying yoga, then you may have heard of a range of styles, from vinyasa, hatha, iyengar, to restorative yoga.

Today, we are going to talk about ashtanga yoga, what it is, what the benefits are, and how it compares to vinyasa yoga. So, read on to find out all there is to know about ashtanga yoga! 

What Is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is now one of the most popular forms of yoga in the world. This kind of yoga focuses on physical practice, by combining a series of poses mixed with breath work to create a sequence. 

As a result, it can be physically demanding, as you will be working on your flexibility, endurance and strength simultaneously.

This means that ashtanga yoga can feel more like a workout than relaxing. Even so, ashtanga yoga is a great way to keep both your body and your mind in top form. 

To find out what exactly Ashtanga yoga is, it’s helpful to break down the origin of the word. For instance, ‘Ashta’ refers to the number eight, and ‘anga’ refers to limbs.

This means that the combination of these words; ‘ashtanga’ relates to the eight limbs of yoga and how this is incorporated into this form of yoga. 

The eight limbs of yoga is a term we use to talk about the various aspects of yoga.

These are Pranayama (breath control), Niyama (self discipline), Asana (posture), Yama (moral codes), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) and Samadhi (oneness).

Ashtanga yoga therefore encompasses all of the above. 

In addition, ashtanga yoga is considered to be a more athletic version of hatha yoga, with a fixed order of postures, however it is closely linked to vinyasa yoga, which has flowing movements between the postures and poses, whilst focusing on breath and your energy. 

Although ashtanga yoga can be physically demanding, it is also very good for finding inner peace, and clearing the mind.  

What Are The Benefits Of Ashtanga Yoga?

There are many benefits to ashtanga yoga, making it a great option for anyone interested in practicing yoga. Here are just a few of the most common ones:

  • Improves strength
  • Increases muscle tone
  • Improves flexibility with practice
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases stress and anxiety
  • Improves focus
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness levels 
  • Decreases body fat 

Is Ashtanga Yoga Good For Beginners?

Yes, Ashtanga yoga is actually very good for beginners.

You will find that many local yoga studios offer beginner classes where the instructor can guide you through some of the poses with many explanations and support. 

Ashtanga yoga is good for those of all backgrounds and experience levels.

What Is Ashtanga Yoga (1)

Not only will it make you more physically fit and sturgeon, but you can also lose weight as it helps to burn lots of calories and release physical tension. 

In addition to this, much research has shown that Ashtanga yoga can improve psychological well being and mental health. Therefore, this type of yoga can be beneficial and is great for everyone.

Whether you are new to yoga or not, ashtanga yoga can help you improve your body and your mind. 

What Is The Difference Between Ashtanga And Vinyasa Yoga?

As mentioned above, ashtanga yoga can be considered a variation of vinyasa yoga, so let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between ashtanga and vinyasa yoga. 

To start off, both ashtanga and vinyasa yoga are considered to be hatha yoga. However, both vinyasa and ashtanga are more dynamic in comparison to hatha yoga.

Yet, both have some common poses that they use. For instance, you will find triangle pose, downward facing dog and warrior poses in both vinyasa and ashtanga yoga. 

That being said, ashtanga and vinyasa are considered more intense and demanding than hatha yoga, as hatha yoga tends to focus more on the correct alignment, and holding the poses for much longer. 

In addition, vinyasa has a much quicker tempo than hatha yoga, and you may struggle to keep up as a beginner.

In terms of differences, vinyasa and ashtanga yoga utilize the breath to guide those participating in and out of their poses in a smooth manner.

Along with this, it is important to note that in vinyasa and hatha yoga classes, you will find that the class itself is created by the instructor, and they will control the structure of the class and the poses, whereas ashtanga yoga has a set sequence of poses that will be followed.

Therefore, ashtanga yoga is far more structured than vinyasa or hatha yoga.

In ashtanga yoga, you will find that the class begins by finding the breath, before moving onto sun salutations, standing poses, seated poses and finishing poses.

Much like vinyasa yoga and hatha yoga, classes will end in savsana, which is guided relaxation. 

Finally, ashtanga yoga can often be considered harder as you don’t use props and it is slightly more physically demanding than other types of yoga.

This is largely due to the fact you have to focus on energy, breathing and controlling the mind whilst practicing the poses. 

Summary

To summarize, ashtanga yoga is a physical type of yoga. It is similar to vinyasa yoga, which is a form of hatha yoga, just like ashtanga yoga.

It can strengthen the body and the mind, whilst also helping to burn calories, focus, decrease stress levels and improve flexibility, much like other forms of yoga. 

While you can try ashtanga yoga as a beginner, with guided classes and an instructor, it is considered slightly more difficult than other types of yoga.

If you think ashtanga may be for you, then it is worth checking out beginner tutorials of how to practice this type of yoga.

Angela Frederik
Latest posts by Angela Frederik (see all)