In ashtanga, the breath is synchronized with the movements of the posture.
Some poses are held for a few seconds to several minutes. Your body quickly becomes warm and sweaty from practicing as it stimulates the internal organs and detoxifies the glands and muscles of your entire body. As you continue to do this practice regularly, your internal system will strengthen and your body will become toned.
Basic Ashtanga Instructions for Beginners
1. Begin the practice by first standing in tadasana (mountain pose). Stand up straight, with both legs together and arms at your side. Keep your back straight, but not stiff or tense; let it be soft and relaxed.
2. Inhale while raising your arms to the ceiling and slightly arching your back, looking up at your fingertips. Then exhale while slowly folding forward from the hip joint, not from the waist. Bring both palms to the floor or blocks or a bench depending on your height or just bring one palm down if your hamstrings are tight.
3. On each inhalation, lift your head and hips toward the ceiling; on each exhalation, sink deeper into the pose. Keep breathing in this way for five breaths. Then exhale while slowly coming back to tadasana (mountain pose).
4. Perform vinyasas by moving into Uttanasana (standing forward bend), the next posture. Inhale and bring your arms to the ceiling, then exhale while lowering them until they’re in a forward-fold position. Hold for five breaths, inhale and come up halfway, then exhale and step or jump back into plank pose.
5. Inhale and roll over into cobra pose, then exhale and return to the downward-facing dog. You can repeat this pattern in the forward-fold position by inhaling and coming up halfway with your arms in the air.
You can add more poses such as chaturanga Dandasana (yoga pushups), adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog), and virabhadrasana 1,2,3 (warrior poses) if you have the time.
An ashtanga is a dynamic form of yoga that can be practiced by beginners, yet it can also take a lifetime to master. The practice will make your body strong and flexible but more importantly, it will make your mind focused.
The Poses in This Routine are Arranged Sequentially to Create a Balanced Flow of Postures
The breath is continuously flowing through the postures, which creates heat that removes impurities from the body while strengthening the lungs, muscles, organs, and glands. Ashtanga encourages practitioners to maintain a steady and comfortable pace, unlike some other forms of yoga that encourage quick transitions between postures. Practicing in this manner cultivates steadiness, balance, endurance, and mental clarity; it also helps relieve stress and anxiety while opening the body’s energy channels. These changes happen gradually over time with regular practice.
Benefits of Ashtanga
The therapeutic benefits of practicing the ashtanga yoga sequence include increased flexibility, relief from anxiety and stress, relief from back pain, reduced symptoms of asthma and heart disease, reduced menstrual discomfort, and increased general well-being. As you continue to practice the postures in this sequence regularly, your body will become more toned and your mind calmer.