What is Ashtanga Yoga About?

If you’re wondering what Ashtanga yoga is about, that’s what I set out to find out, and in the process I discovered such an exciting yoga practice that I just had to share it.

You may know or may not know that I love yoga. Yoga at home, yoga from Youtube, yoga from books and yoga on my own. It’s an essential part of my life that I love. But I’m no expert and I’m always on the lookout for new inspiration.

So I’m on a mission … to find the best, most inspirational you tube videos to do myself at home.

What Made Me Wonder What Ashtanga Yoga is About


Well the answer has its beginning in a post I wrote not long ago about OHMME, the number one in Best Yoga Clothes for Men.

If you read it, maybe you visited OHMME’S website to check out what I was raving about. And if you did, you may have taken notice of the incredibly inspiring yogis there. I mean this company is truly living what it sells. Yoga.

Have a watch of this video and tell me; don’t you think this is a mesmerising blend of art, grace…control…peace?


So then, as I was scouting through the videos and I found another video from OHMME, this time by Bob Manoj Bharij, practising Ashtanga Yoga, and yes, that’s what really peeked my interest and that’s when I thought hmmm….so what is Astanga Yoga about then?

Here you can watch the video that set my curiosity on fire to find out what Ashtanga Yoga is all about.

And after seeing that video I was so inspired I set about finding out the answer exactly: What is Ashtanga Yoga about for ME?

The Answer 


I discovered that Ashtanga yoga is a style of yoga which follows set sequences (the primary series, intermediate series and four advanced series). It was founded by K. Pattabhi Jois and became popular in the mid twentieth century. But I’m not here to write as a yoga expert – because I’m not one. Nor am I about to tell you the complete history of Ashtanga Yoga, because you can better look that up here on Wikipedia.

No, I’m here to write for all you ‘normal’ people who aren’t really very far into yoga yet and are wondering what it’s all about. People who may benefit what I’ve discovered along the way, to help you get the most out of your yoga.

So, Ashtanga Yoga follows a set of poses that doesn’t change. Only when you’ve mastered the first series can you progress to the next.

When I first read that I thought it sounded dull. Repetitive. Boring.

”Wow was I wrong!”

For my personal life, I think I’ve discovered what Astanga Yoga is about now  –  I’ve discovered the answer by doing the practice, because it makes me feel so rejuvenated, so…spiritually connected.

The flow of asanas is linked to your breathing, so every breath counts and forms part of your practice, and the maximum breaths for one pose is five.

I’ve found this quite different to other yoga styles I’ve experienced up to now. It seems to bring strength, flexibility, balance, control & grace, to your body. Peace to your mind and soul.

I would say that Ashtanga isn’t the place to start if you’re brand new to yoga. Better to learn the asanas individually, then link them together with Vinyasa Yoga until you feel confident in the basic poses and flows. Just my opinion of course.

Then, when you’re ready, you can enjoy the Ashtanga Introduction to the primary series by Fightmaster Yoga, which I’ve posted below.

It isn’t an ‘easy’ routine so you won’t get bored – and that makes you want to strive to get deeper into it each day. It gives you the chance to feel your progress (though don’t forget that yoga is about being present, not about searching for future results).

For me the wonderful thing is that I can make it part of my daily life, just like eating or drinking, a guaranteed slot. No searching for new videos, no wondering how to step up my practice or who to follow next. With Ashtanga yoga I can do the same routine, just progressively getting deeper and deeper into the poses. And I’m loving that.

For me, that’s what Ashtanga yoga is about at this stage. Submerging myself in the practice.

The most important thing when I’m looking for great yoga video to follow, is the use of the voice. That’s absolutely number one. I don’t want to hear lots of explanations and chat during a practise – no, I prefer to have simple instructions with additional comments only directly related to improving yourself and your muscles and your mind.

So the teacher’s really important and you can waste tons of time ploughing through video after video only to be left feeling unfulfilled. I hope to save you that time by posting this article.

What Makes the Best Type of Yoga Video?


  • Obviously the video should have a sequence of yoga that you can follow at your level and enjoy.
  • The tone and the pitch of the voice should be relaxing and definitely not grate on your nerves.
  • There shouldn’t be any chit-chat to interfere from you being 100% present in the moment.
  • The type of yoga should suit you or suit your mood at that moment.So I want to share this great teacher, Lesley from Fightmaster Yoga, who’s an inspiration in this video because she lets you be at peace, and she doesn’t twitter at you! She speaks softly and gently counts your breath while also offering tips about alignment or muscle engagement. And it’s a great routine.

Tips for Following the Ashtanga Yoga Intro Video from Lesley Fightmaster


  • The beginning of the video is made up of cycles. If you can’t do three repetitions of a cycle, start with one, then build up to two. Don’t compete with yourself. Just DO and BE.
  • If there are parts of the video that you can’t do – don’t worry – just use a different pose at that moment in the video. For example, towards the end of the video Lesley does a headstand. If you don’t want to do that, don’t stress, just do another pose of your choice at that moment, like a tree pose, or boat pose or any of your choice.
  • If you can’t keep up with all the jumping back to Chaturanga (press up pose) followed by upward facing dog, use that slot to strengthen a part of your body you chose, like doing a couple of hip openers for example, just staying seated for that moment while Lesley jumps on the video.
  • Build it up daily.
  • If you’re a novice like me, you shouldn’t worry at this stage about being pure to the cause of Ashtanga yoga. Adaptations are fine. Just do what you can do and let yourself be really present in your practice. (In pure terms Ashtanga yoga can’t be altered at all, or it isn’t Ashtanga anymore.)
  • Your yoga time is yours. You set the rules.
  • Enjoy!

 

Finally I would add that adopting the Ashtanga series into your life doesn’t mean that you can’t do other yoga too. So when you want some variety, go ahead and do a Vinyasa flow (or whatever) of your choice. I know I’m going to keep up the Ashtanga yoga in my daily life for now but I’ll do other yoga practises too.

What kind of yoga do you practise?

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