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Asthanga Yoga: A Mindful Practice For Overall Well-Being In 2023

Aishwarya Aneesh

by Aishwarya Aneesh

Ashtanga yoga asanas

Table of content

The new year has already arrived with all that jingle bells, but have you taken any resolutions this year? And what is your resolution for 2023, and how is it going so far? Okay ok, so many questions, I understand. Ok, let me tell you mine: to work on my overall well-being, and improve concentration, and fitness of course! When researching what I can do to accomplish my resolutions, I came across the advantages and benefits of practicing Ashtanga yoga.

You know what, I understood a lot about Ashtanga yoga which was mesmerizing. I am going to blow your mind too with the numerous benefits of practicing this yoga style, which will make you reconsider your perception of yoga. Till now even I believed yoga is just an exercise with a lot of twists and curls to our body. Yoga entails much more. Ashtanga Yoga is excellent if you want a full-body workout, inner cleansing, and a clear mind.

It’s time to roll out your yoga mat and learn the blend of physical and mental activity that has enchanted yoga practitioners worldwide for thousands of years. To enjoy the benefits of yoga, you don’t need to be an expert. Yoga can calm the mind and strengthen the body regardless of age, weight, or level of physical fitness.

Let’s explore all there is to know about Ashtanga yoga.

What Is Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga involves performing a set of asanas in a particular order. These asanas are connected by the breath and movement, a technique known as Vinyasa.

Thus, of the 24 different styles of yoga, Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most disciplined and vigorous.

There are six “series” in an Ashtanga yoga practice. Every series starts with Sun Salutations, a predetermined sequence of postures that includes plank stance and downward dog poses. A standing sequence comes next, and every series concludes with an identical finishing sequence.

The set of asanas that are practiced and the series’ main focus is the only aspects that vary across each series.

Beginners start with the primary series, then move on to the secondary or intermediate, followed by the four levels of the advanced series.

Different Series Of Ashtanga Yoga

Primary Series

This series aims to remove obstacles from the body’s Nadis, also called energy channels. It is also known by two different names “Yoga therapy” and “Yoga Chikitsa.”

The poses are intended to assist in starting increasing your strength and loosening tight muscles. It also helps to bring focus to the mind. Forward bends, twists, and hip openers are the first poses in this series.

This series is best recommended for beginners!

Secondary/Intermediate Series

Nadi Shodhana, which means “nerve cleansing,” is another name for this series. Backbend asanas, which work to keep the spine flexible, are the main focus here. Headstand variants, along with some of the earlier intensified asanas, are also done here.

Advanced Series

The advanced series, which comprises four levels, intends to build on the knowledge acquired throughout the primary and secondary series.

If you are an experienced yogi, you might appreciate rocket yoga, a rigorous style of yoga that is comparable to this difficult Ashtanga series.

History Of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga for weight loss

Now you might be curious to learn a little about the history of Ashtanga yoga. Here we go!

Ashtanga yoga as we know it now is a contemporary version of traditional Indian yoga developed in the 20th century by yoga guru and scholar Sri Pattabhi Jois. But the origins of Ashtanga yoga go back even deeper. Patanjali, an ancient Indian scholar who authored the Yoga Sutras around 5000 BC, is believed to have used the word first.

Another text, the Yoga Korunta, authored by the sage Vamana Rishi, described Ashtanga yoga. In the early 1900s at Mount Kailash, Sri T. Krishnamacharya, the founder of contemporary yoga, received this text from his guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari.

When Pattabhi Jois studied under Krishnamacharya, he was taught a series of asanas that were individualized for each student. Each day, the students would work on this sequence at their own pace with help from their teacher. Krishnamacharya added more difficult asanas to their sequences as their strength and flexibility increased and finally set new sequences with even more challenging postures.

The Mysore-style class yoga was created by Pattabhi Jois using this Ashtanga yoga system. Additionally, he provided names to the several sequences that Krishnamacharya had introduced. These sequences are now known as the primary, secondary, and advanced series.

Do you want to learn more about the origins of yoga? Choose one of the top yoga books to expand your knowledge further.

Vinyasa And Ashtanga Yoga: Key Difference

Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga are terms that are frequently used interchangeably. They represent two distinct yoga forms and present the body with various challenges! Vinyasa is frequently compared to freestyle yoga because it involves flowing movements and focused, deep breathing.

Even though Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa share many poses, vinyasa teachers have more creative freedom when creating sequences. For instance, it is possible to alter the order and pace of the poses.

Pattabhi Jois recommended doing Ashtanga yoga six days a week to experience its physical benefits, whereas Vinyasa has no set schedule for consistent practice.

Vinyasa may appeal to you more if you practice yoga for relaxation or fun. However, Ashtanga Yoga might be for you if you seek a body- and mind-transforming experience. This is because practicing Ashtanga yoga is a far more intense experience with less outside distraction. For instance, the absence of background music enables you to concentrate more intently on your breath and inner self.

Let’s examine each style’s sequence, intensity, class length, adjustments, and philosophical foundations to properly understand the differences between them:

Key Differences

Vinyasa ashtanga yoga

Three Principles Of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is a moving meditation because it encourages practitioners to concentrate on introspection through the use of the tristhana idea, which is at the foundation of the practice. Tristan is built on three pillars, which are:

Pranayama: The core of this yoga discipline is breathing, which is supposed to awaken your life force. Ujjayi pranayama, often known as “ocean breath,” is a breathing technique used in Ashtanga yoga to raise oxygen levels and generate more body heat.

Asana: During a yoga practice, you go through several seated and standing positions known as asanas. The asanas are practiced in a rigid order that doesn’t change in ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Three main bandhas, or lock points, in the body are also activated through these asanas. The three bandhas are the Jalandhar bandha, the uddiyana bandha, and the Mula bandha, which are all situated at the base of the spine (near the throat).

Drishti: In yoga practice, Drishti refers to where you fix your eyes. It is derived from Dharana, or concentration described as one of the eight limbs of yoga.

This component of tristhana involves your mind in the exercise, which enhances focus and self-awareness as you move and breathe.

8 Limbs Of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga means “eight-limbed yoga” in English (in Sanskrit, ashta means eight, and anga means limb). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient text, describe this “8-fold road” to enlightenment or inner cleansing.

8 limbs of ashtanga yoga

The eight Ashtanga Yoga limbs are as follows

Yamas – Restraints

Ethics and morals are the focus of the first limb. The basis for living the yogic lifestyle is these moral principles. Yamas instruct practitioners to ” treat others as you want to be treated,” which is similar to the “Golden Rule.” 

The five main yamas are

  • Ahimsa – Non-violence
  • Satya – Truthfulness
  • Asteya – Non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya – Sublimating sexual energy
  • Aparigraha – Non-greed

The most crucial thing to remember is that this yoga practice necessitates a fundamental moral component that fills your life both on and off the mat. Modern Ashtangis interpret these yamas in many ways.

Niyama – Observances

Self-control and spirituality form the foundation of the second limb. Yogis can put these into action by meditating, praying, and keeping a journal.

The five niyamas are 

  • Shaucha – Cleanliness Of Body And Mind
  • Santosha – Contentment
  • Tapas – Discipline
  • Svadyaya – Self Study
  • Ishvarapranidana – Surrender To The Divine

Asanas – Posture

The word means “seat.” These physical positions make it possible to sit in certain contemplative positions for long periods while encouraging mental calmness. Initially, the purpose of these physical positions was to condition the body for extended periods of meditation.

Dharana – Concentration

This exercise is intended to relax the mind and promote inner and exterior equilibrium, even though it can be challenging to focus in a world full of distractions.

Dhyana – Meditation

The seventh limb of yoga is characterized by meditation and reflection. Beginner meditators may find it difficult to entirely quiet their minds, yet doing so is a desirable objective to work toward if you want to experience higher states of consciousness and inner peace. 

Keep in mind that yoga is a process. Therefore we shouldn’t anticipate entering a meditation practice right away during our first flow.

Samadhi – Unified Consciousness

The ultimate goal or stage of yoga is total immersion in the happiness of all beings. To put it another way, this happens when a person is deeply aware of the connectivity of the universe and focuses on it during meditation. 

Samadhi is sometimes referred to as “enlightenment,” although it can equally be understood as the unmistakable sense of happiness and contentment.

To discover and abide in the Divinity within us, the eight limbs travel more profoundly and deeper inside. In yoga, when we rest, we are in complete oneness beyond peace and happiness.

Are You Wondering, Why You Need All 8 Limbs? Here Is Why

The arrangement of these eight limbs, which is in increasing hierarchical order, and each of which leads to the next, contains the key to the solution. Before working on the following limb, the previous one must be mastered.

When we adhere to these eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga, positive effects are seen on the body, mind, and soul.

  • Muscular coordination improves, the body becomes more supple, and a sense of lightness is experienced.
  • Samyama, the state of calmness of the mind, is accompanied by brief moments of intuition.
  • When the soul, or Chitta, reaches Purusha, i.e., consciousness, spiritual growth can be observed.

Therefore, all of the steps are required to advance along the path of yoga. Although it is challenging to achieve pure Samadhi, when we move from Dharana to Samadhi, a psychophysiological equilibrium restores the person’s natural rhythm. It protects him from the body’s natural stress response.

Ashtanga Yoga Poses

Some of the Ashtanga Poses to try are given below in detail. Check for the risk factors and do it safely.

UTTANASANA – FORWARD BEND POSE

HOW TO DO IT

Uttanasana

You can perform Tadasana, often known as the mountain pose, as a pre-Uttanasana pose. Uttanasana is performed by following the steps below.

  • Start by standing up straight and distributing your weight evenly between both feet spaced two inches apart.
  • As you take a breath, raise your arms upward.
  • Exhaling, lean forward from the hips and stretch the body from the waist, keeping the back flat. Then, gradually sag down to your feet.
  • When folding your upper body until the trunk is parallel to the floor, maintain a straight spine and do not allow it to curve.
  • You can bend your knees and bring your chest as close to your thigh as possible if you have trouble getting your trunk parallel to the floor.
  • Maintain an extended spine and legs. Please put your hands down next to your feet so they can rest there.
  • When you exhale, lift your hips and tailbone a little higher and pull your chest toward your knees.
  • Move your head gently toward your feet as you unwind.
  • Hold this final position for 10 to 30 seconds while concentrating on your deep breathing.
  • Take a deep breath in and extend your arms upward and forward to return to the starting standing position. After that, steadily push yourself up to standing.
  • Put your arms out to the sides as you exhale. This concludes the Uttanasana yoga pose.

BENEFITS

  • It helps maintain your spine’s youthfulness and helps to lengthen your spine, making it more flexible. Additionally, it strengthens the muscles that run along the spine and relieves tension in the lower back.
  • It is beneficial if you experience hamstring tightness issues. Lower back problems caused by tight hamstrings may limit everyday activity. Placing your head below your heart enables you to invert your torso, which stretches your tight hamstrings, allowing them to loosen up.
  • Uttanasana may energize the nervous system. This inverted position, which causes you to fold downward, may improve blood flow to the head and neck area, supplying the brain with more oxygen and stimulating its activities.
  • The standing forward bend pose could stimulate the digestive system, increase metabolism, and give the digestive organs a gentle massage.
  • The tough stretch that uttanasana gives the hips and pelvis may help them become more flexible and gain mobility.

RISK CONNECTED

Before performing the Uttanasana pose, the following conditions need to be watched out for:

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Low blood pressure (Hypotension)
  • Vertigo
  • Back problems
  • Ulcer and Hernia
  • Osteoporosis (a condition in which bone density diminishes)

TRIKONASANA – TRIANGLE POSE

HOW TO DO IT

Trikonasana

The Triangle Pose is performed using the following step-by-step instructions.

  • With your feet turned out and your knees straight, stand upright with a 3-foot gap between your feet.
  • Breathe in and raise both of your arms sideways to the height of your shoulders while maintaining a straight line of vision.
  • The right foot should now be turned to the right.
  • Exhale, then slowly bend to the right, putting your right hand’s fingers directly behind your right foot. You might not be able to touch the right foot when performing trikonasana for the first time. Try contacting the right knee instead.
  • Your right arm and left arm should be parallel to one another.
  • Concentrate on the middle finger on your left hand as you turn your head to the left.
  • Keep your position for 10 to 30 seconds. Check your breathing to make sure it is normal while you are in this position. For the first few times you practice trikonasana, you might find it challenging to hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds. Hold the posture in this situation for as long as it is comfortable.
  • Breathe in and rise gradually after 30 seconds have passed.
  • Now perform trikonasana on the left side by following the exact instructions.

BENEFITS

  • Trikonasana’s lateral bending may aid in lengthening the leg muscles, which in turn may enhance the strength of the calves, thighs, and legs. It also makes the hamstrings more flexible.
  • Essentially, trikonasana entails bending sideways. The spine is stretched and made more flexible by this sideways bending.
  • It’s never pleasant when indigestion strikes, regardless of age group. Try the trikonasana if you have an upset stomach. It is believed that it could help with indigestion.
  • Trikonasana could aid in loosening the hips. It assists in hip stretching, which may aid in hip strengthening, which increases hip flexibility.
  • Trikonasana might assist in increased blood circulation throughout the body, which would maintain the organs functioning at their best. It might help with blood pressure, improving lung capacity, stress, and anxiety concerns.
  • Trikonasana’s stretching of the hands may increase arm strength and flexibility.

RISK CONNECTED

There are a few safety measures to follow before executing trikonasana. These are what they are:

  • While bending sideways, one must avoid overstretching. Don’t push yourself past your limits.
  • Refrain from exerting too much effort if, in the final position, your hands do not touch your heels. Instead, try simply touching your knees.
  • No one should do this pose with sciatica or slipped discs.
  • Don’t perform this asana if you have recently undergone any abdominal surgery.

UTTHITA PARSVAKONASANA – EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE

HOW TO DO IT

Utthita Parsvakonasana

Here is a detailed description of Parsvakonasana

  • Start by striking the Mountain Pose while standing tall.
  • With your right foot, move in that direction with a broad step.
  • Turn your right foot out slowly at a 90-degree angle. Turn your left foot at a 45-degree angle in the same way.
  • Exhale and bring your right knee parallel to the floor by bending it at a 90-degree angle. Your trunk should bend downward.
  • Hold the posture for a few seconds while inhaling deeply.
  • Breathe fully, stretch your right leg to the side, and bend your body over it.
  • As you bend, place your right hand on the inside or outside of your right foot.
  • Lift your left hand, parallel to the ear, over your head.
  • Right from the hand to the heel, you need to experience an intense stretch.
  • Slowly incline your neck up toward the ceiling.
  • Keep this last position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Press your feet into the ground, bring your left arm back, bring your leg back, and straighten your body to exit the pose.
  • On the opposite side, repeat the expanded side angle position.

BENEFITS

  • The muscles in our sides, known as the obliques, are typically inactive due to their limited involvement in our daily activities. One of the few yoga poses that deeply stretches and strengthens your obliques is Utthita Parsvakonasana. 
  • It energizes and strengthens the muscles in and around your thighs, calves, ankles, and knees. This aids in easing any discomfort or stiffness in these regions.
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana enhances your balance, coordination, and stability by engaging your lower body muscles.
  • People with respiratory issues benefit from utthita parsvakonasana. Asthma and COPD are two lung-related diseases that can prevent and treated by doing this.
  • The side angle pose stretches your abdomen and wakes your digestive system. This avoids issues like bloat, constipation, and indigestion. Further, to get quick relief from constipation, check yoga for constipation which illustrates more poses.
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana aids in weight loss. This provides you with a toned appearance and guards against illnesses linked to obesity.
  • Another advantage of Utthita Parsvakonasana is improving cognitive function by increasing circulation. This promotes mental peace, lessens stress, and guards against age-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

RISK CONNECTED

Only perform the extended side angle posture after consulting your doctor if you have one of these conditions.

  • Injury to the shoulders, hips, legs, arms, or neck.
  • Headaches that persist or migraines.
  • Cervical disc disease.
  • Vertigo
  • High or Low blood pressure

NAVASANA – BOAT POSE

HOW TO DO IT

Navasana
  • Exhale, then slowly raise your legs off the ground while still breathing. Then, bend your thighs to a 45-degree angle while keeping your legs straight. This is necessary since the pressure is lost as soon as the legs are bowed.
  • Elevate your back, shoulders, and chest slowly off the ground. Now, support your entire weight on your buttocks (tripod of the seated bone and tailbone).
  • Currently, slowly straighten your legs. Try raising the tips of your toes above your eyes next. The full boat stance results from this.
  • Keep your knees bent, and your shins parallel to the ground if you struggle to maintain the full boat stance. Thus, a half-boat stance is created.
  • Pull your shoulders back and extend your hands so you can reach for your toes with both of them. If it’s challenging, hold your knees or ankles to finish the position.
  • Maintain a long, straight spine and a toned lower tummy.
  • Hold the position for 10–20 seconds while breathing normally for one round, then progressively extend the time to one minute. Three times through this cycle.
  • As you exhale, release your toes and lower your body back to the starting position. Legs should be slowly lowered, and your back should be in a supine position. 2-4

Prone Position

Laying flat on your stomach, with your forehead touching the ground, is a good place to start.

  • Put your arms in front of your head, closer to your ears, and place your palms on the ground.
  • When you inhale, elevate your legs from the waist while lifting your arms, forehead, and chest off the ground. Your stomach should support your entire weight.
  • Gradually lower your shoulder, forehead, arms, and legs to get back to your starting posture. Put your chin on the ground while returning your hands to your sides.

BENEFITS

  • This yoga pose may aid in calming the nervous system and bringing it into equilibrium. It might provide the body with new life and vitality by removing lethargy and fatigue.
  • By accelerating metabolism and promoting digestion, frequent practice of the boat yoga pose may enhance your digestive system. Your diaphragm is raised in this asana, which encourages digestion by circulating the air in your abdomen, removing gases, and lowering the pressure on your stomach.
  • Boat pose has the potential to improve core stability and reduce body fatigue. Energizing your abdominal muscles and strengthening your hip flexors may help to enlarge your chest. Your hips may get stronger, and your overall endurance may go up.
  • Yoga in the boat posture may strengthen and increase flexibility in the muscles of the arms, legs, thighs, and calves.
  • Additionally, it might force the blood that has accumulated in the legs to flow more freely throughout the body.
  • It might be beneficial for kidney issues and hernia-related difficulties.
  • You might feel lighter if you lose some of the belly fat.

RISK CONNECTED

The following are warnings and suggestions against performing Navasana.

  • People who have recently undergone stomach surgery or have stomach ulcers should avoid the boat posture since it puts a lot of strain on the stomach area.
  • Navasana is not advised for those who have high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, or asthma because it could lead to serious problems.
  • Pregnant women shouldn’t use the boat posture since it could put them in dangerous positions that could result in injuries.
  • Women should avoid Navasana for the first two days of their period since it may result in cramps.
  • People with a history of paralysis, vertigo, severe headaches, or migraines should take extra care because incorrect postures could endanger their neck, shoulders, and arms.

SIRSASANA – HEAD STAND

HOW TO DO IT

Sirsasana

Sirsasana requires practice, so it’s important to master the pose gradually while using a wall or pillow for support. Preliminary asanas such as Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog posture), Uttanasana (standing-forward bend pose), and Virasana (hero pose) can be practiced initially. This might make Sirsasana easier to learn.

In this position, the body is inverted, with the head, arms, and wrists supporting the body’s weight. Building arm strength is crucial to balancing the inverted body weight as a result. It should be done with an empty stomach.

  • To begin, the person should sit on the floor with their knees bent, their forearms lowered, and their fingers interlocked.
  • With your hands at the back of your head, place the crown of your head on the ground.
  • The entire body is then progressively reversed, stabilizing each component as it lies on the other in a single plane.
  •  If someone cannot flip himself upside down, they can ask the trainer for assistance.
  • In the headstand or Sirsasana, the shoulder and joints take over the lower body’s role in regulating posture.
  • It is crucial to keep your torso in a straight position when doing a headstand to prevent vertigo and blurred vision brought on by incorrect blood flow.

BENEFITS

  • Sirsasana, also known as a headstand, can revitalize the body by enhancing blood flow to lower body areas. It also enhances cardiovascular function by increasing blood flow to the heart and brain.
  • A headstand pose can assist in building muscle endurance and so strengthen the upper body, especially the arms and core.
  • Sirsasana’s effects may improve visual working memory and memory capacity when practiced for a longer period.
  • It might aid in improving the body’s balance and flexibility.
  • It might lessen the release of stress hormones, which would alleviate tension.
  • Additionally, it can aid in reducing fluid retention and enhancing the body’s digestive system. Removing toxins from the body may also assist in weight management.
  • Additionally, it might enhance blood flow to the eyes.

RISK RELATED

  • Children under the age of seven should not perform headstands since they put them at risk for harm.
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should refrain from doing headstands or Sirsasana.
  • Those who have abnormal artery bulges should avoid this pose.
  • Patients with eye conditions like glaucoma should avoid an inverted position since it raises the pressure in the eyes.
  • Patients who are overweight or elderly should avoid this position.
  • No one should do headstands with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
  • Patients with spondylosis should refrain from doing sirsasana (inflammation in spine bones).

Purpose Of Ashtanga Yoga

Purification of the body and mind is Ashtanga yoga’s ultimate goal. You’ll get a lot of tapas from moving so rapidly and powerfully—both physically and mentally. This activity offers a distinct sense of purpose, which forces you to focus and move forward. Tapas are spiritual activities that frequently require self-control, seclusion, and extended periods of profound meditation.

7 chakaras of the body

Not everyone should practice Ashtanga yoga, but those who seek a truly advanced, rigorous, and athletic exercise should. It’s a beautiful form of yoga that offers everything a yogi may desire for a complete yoga practice. Moreover, Ashtanga Yoga helps to open up the 7 spinning powerful chakras of energy in your body.

Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners

Yes! Ashtanga is not the best yoga style for beginners because it is complex, rigorous, and physically demanding, but beginners are still welcome to start. You can notice your improvements and progress because it offers precise and organized movements.

Additionally, it’s advantageous because the main sequences begin with poses and movements that are more appropriate for beginners. The first series, called Yoga Chikitsa or Yoga Therapy, focuses on centering and developing a robust and healthy body in preparation for the more difficult series that comes after.

Mysore-style sessions provide a strong emphasis on individualized coaching, which helps determine when you’re performing your asanas correctly.

How To Practice Ashtanga Yoga

Your instructor will guide you through the sequences in class, offer advice on alignment, and provide practical help. Following memorization of the sequence, you can enroll in a Mysore-style class where you practice in the same space as other students without an instructor directing. However, they might be around to encourage.

The Primary Series, which consists of four sections: sun salutations, a standing posture, a backhanding sequence, and a concluding sequence, should be followed initially if you want to practice this kind of yoga. Always perform the poses in this specific order, holding each one for five full breaths. The four sections are

  • Surya Namaskar – A single Surya Namaskar consists of 10 steps.
  • Standing Postures: These include Prasarita Padottanasana, Padangustha, Padahastasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana, and Parsvottanasana.
  • Nadi Shodana- The more energetic form of Ashtanga yoga.
  • Sthira Bhaga – Several asanas practiced here defy gravity.

Ashtanga yogis combine all three elements of the practice, Vinyasa, Bandhas, and Drishti, harmonizing body, mind, and spirit. The postures get more intense as you advance to different series of this yoga practice.

Benefits Of Practising Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga has several advantages for weight loss, strength training, and mental wellness, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi! If practiced regularly it also helps in inner calm and stress management.

So let’s explore the physical and mental health advantages of Ashtanga yoga!

#1 Improves Mental Well-Being

Ashtanga for mental well-being

Regular Ashtanga yoga practice helps alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Ujjayi breathing is a method used in Ashtanga Yoga that promotes clear inhalation and nasal exhalation.

This method, when correctly applied along with maintaining the asanas, aids in stimulating the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is a component of the autonomic nervous system, which is linked to the body’s ability to relax and regenerate.

The “fight or flight” reaction, which is brought on by the release of the stress hormone cortisol into the bloodstream, is suppressed by the PNS. Ashtanga yoga becomes a sort of meditation when ujjayi breathing is practiced properly. Meditation can help you manage stress and anxiety.

#2 Enhances Cardiovascular Health And Fitness

Ashtanga yoga practice

Ashtanga is a vigorous style of yoga holding continuous asanas which keep your heart rate elevated throughout the practice. As a result, the heart and lungs are able to function more effectively and transport oxygen to the body’s working muscles.

Your cardiovascular system benefits from Ashtanga yoga’s emphasis on breathing because it makes your body work harder to handle the extra oxygen it is receiving. Over time, this strengthens blood arteries, decreases blood pressure, and enhances heart function.

Long-term workout endurance levels will rise if your cardiovascular system is strong. As a result, you’ll be able to practice your Ashtanga yoga sequences for a longer period of time without getting tired, allowing you more time to perfect those poses. You will benefit from improving your cardio in other areas of fitness, such as jogging.


#3 Ashtanga Yoga Build Strength

Ashtanga Yoga and Pregnancy

Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically challenging yoga since many of the asanas call for you to balance on one leg or carry your entire body weight with just one hand.

Both upper body and lower body strength are essential for this.  Your muscles will develop the ability to adapt to and overcome the constant resistance being applied to them as you continually practice the postures, which will force them to get stronger and grow. Ashtanga yoga is also physically demanding since the poses and motions call for stability, which requires using your core.

As you continue to engage your core muscles during your yoga sessions, they will gain strength. Over time, having a strong core helps with balance and reduces your risk of injury. A strong core can also aid in better posture, which eases pressure on the spine and lessens lower back pain.

#4 Increases Flexibility

Principles of ashtanga yoga

Strength, mobility, and flexibility are all advantages of Ashtanga yoga. Each posture is held for approximately 5 breaths. This makes sure the muscles and connective tissues experience a deep stretch, which enhances flexibility.

The advantages of flexibility exercise are numerous. The largest advantage is probably that as you practice more, you will be able to do each posture to the best of your ability since a more flexible foundation will allow you to build strength.

Long-term practice of these postures and the vinyasas in between will enhance your range of motion (ROM), which once more aids in the development of muscle strength.

#5 Encourages Weight Management

Ashtanga yoga for weight loss

You’ll be glad to know that Ashtanga yoga has several advantages for weight loss if you’re wanting to drop a few pounds as well as enhance your general health and fitness!

For instance, Ashtanga yoga works multiple muscles simultaneously to hold the postures, which raises your heart rate. Because these muscles need a lot of energy to function properly, your body burns a lot of calories. This can help you lose weight with other lifestyle elements like a calorie-deficit diet plan.

In order to prevent and lessen the impact of diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, it is imperative to maintain a healthy weight. If you want to lose weight, check out Fitelo’s list of the best weight-loss snacks and start making some healthy swaps in your diet. Check this link to learn more about yoga for diabetes.

#6 Helps To Clear The Mind

Purpose of ashtanga yoga

The ujjayi breathing technique used in Ashtanga yoga increases the focal point within the body, which aids in relaxing the mind and enhancing mental well-being.

When you have a clear mind, you are less inclined to worry about the future or obsess over the past and may instead focus on the present moment. 

Practising Ashtanga yoga has advantages in our daily life as well. For example, over time, this will improve your ability to make decisions and make it much easier for you to concentrate on tasks. You have more room for creativity when you free your thoughts of any unpleasant feelings or trauma.

 

How Effective Is Ashtanga Yoga For Weight Loss

There are many physical, psychological, and spiritual advantages of Ashtanga yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga is the most well-known yoga style that provides challenging physical workouts that effectively aid in weight loss. Ashtanga yoga can help with weight loss by promoting rigorous cardio workouts. You can do Ashtanga yoga daily if you alternate between challenging and easier days.

Benefits Of Ashtanga Yoga For Weight Loss

Consistent and regular practice helps you release stress, strengthen muscles and joints, and massage internal organs while helping you get stronger and more flexible, reduce body fat, and achieve inner peace.

Benefits of ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga yoga is an intense workout that demands excellent stamina, strength, and fitness. But I suggest you seek a yoga instructor to lead you through the asanas. Yoga is not a miraculous weight-loss cure, either. Cutting calories is another important factor in losing extra weight.

  • It boosts metabolism and calorie burning, which helps people lose weight.
  • Enhances flexibility, stamina, and strength.
  • Reduces tension and stress.
  • Aids in relaxation and calmness to promote deep, comfortable sleep.
  • Strengthens ligaments, nerves, and joints.
  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Regular practice can aid in the balance of hormone production.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Encourages detoxification and healthy digestion.

Ashtanga Poses For Weight Loss

There are many Ashtanga poses, but it can be challenging to determine which one burns fat. Some Ashtanga yoga postures that promote weight loss include

1) Locust pose (Salabhasana)

Ashtanga for weight loss

How to perform the locust pose

  • With your palms facing the floor, lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Put your feet on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Rolling your shoulders back and down can help you open your chest as you lower your chin to the floor. Keep your arms behind you as you slowly raise your head, arms, and chest off the floor.
  • Lift your knees off the floor and firmly press the top of your feet into the floor. To keep your neck in a stable position, keep your gaze forward.
  • Hold this posture for a few breaths, then release. Repeat.

2) Bridge pose (Setu Bandhanasana)

Ashtanga yoga poses

How to perform the bridge pose:

  • Lie flat on your back with your feet straight on the floor.
  • Keep your knees bent and pointed upward. Position your arms at your sides, with your palms facing up.
  • With your upper body pressed to the floor, raise your pelvis slowly until it is at knee level.
  • After holding the position for five breaths, carefully bring your body back to the beginning position. Repeat.

3) Half spinal twist pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Ashtanga yoga posture

How to perform a Half spinal twist pose

  • Sit upright on the floor. As you extend your legs straight out in front, place your hands behind you for support.
  • Put your left foot on the outside of your right knee while bending your left knee.
  • Your torso should be straight as you progressively turn your upper body to the left.
  • Place your right upper arm outside your left knee, or hug your left knee with your right arm.
  • Take deep breaths and elevate your sternum. As you exhale, slowly twist while maintaining your upper back stable and wide.
  • Once you’ve reached your starting position, switch arms and legs and perform the movement again on the other side.

4) Frog pose (Mandukasana)

Ashtanga yoga asanas

How to perform the frog position

  • Put your hands and knees under your shoulders while standing on all fours.
  • Your knees should be stretched wide to your sides as you transfer your weight to your hands. To avoid injury, make sure your knees and hips are in line.
  • Put your hands together, rest on your arms with your elbows under your shoulders, and point your toes to the sides. Alternatively, you may reach forward with your hands and place your chin or forehead on the floor.
  • Sit back on your hips gradually and inhale deeply. Repeat.

5) Wide-legged forward bend pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Ashtanga yoga benefits

How to perform the wide-legged forward bend pose

  • Stand with your feet wider apart from your hips (approximately 4 to 5 inches apart).
  • Keep your thighs engaged by pressing them up. Press your big toes and the edges of your feet firmly into the floor. Your hands should be on your waist.
  • Lengthen your back and lift your chest as you fold forward at the hips. Put your hands on the ground right below your shoulders after completely lowering your torso.
  • If you can go even further, keep your hands tucked behind your elbows and fold into the pose more deeply. Try to move your head such that it rests on the ground.
  • Maintain the posture for a few breaths. Repeat.

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Food And Ashtanga Yoga

What to eat and when to eat questions will inevitably arise for anyone who does yoga, and Ashtanga yoga in particular.

Try to practice yoga on an empty stomach as a general rule. This indicates that you should wait 3 to 4 hours after eating before practicing yoga. Especially after vigorous practice, a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat will aid our body’s recovery afterward.

Foods to take before the practice of Ashtanga Yoga are

A Handful Of Nuts (especially almonds)


Apricots

Dates


Oats


Banana


Light Smoothies


Foods to take after the practice of Ashtanga Yoga are

Healthy carbohydrates like Fruit (e.g., banana and mango), Sweet potato, Rice, Dates, and Oats.


Proteins like Pulses (beans, peas, lentils), Tofu, Seeds, and Nuts.


Fats like Nuts milk, avocado, chia seeds, salmon, and eggs (for the pescatarians/ vegans)


Hydration is the last thing you should think about before practicing yoga. As a general guideline, avoid processed foods, alcohol, and very salty foods.


Fitelo Recommendations While Practicing Ashtanga Yoga

Keep in mind the following recommendations while practicing Ashtanga Yoga. 

Ashtanga Yoga recommendation

Oil Bath

An oil bath will help you to reduce stress and assist in relaxing and preventing muscle spasms. After practice or at least once every week, we advise you to take an oil bath. You should leave the oil on your body for at least 10 minutes before having a hot shower to get clear of it.

Empty Stomach

Before practicing yoga, we advise you to wait at least 3 hours after any substantial meal. You can consume a smoothie, a light lunch, or a fruit snack one hour before the session. However, how long it takes for your digestion to complete will determine this. Ensure that you always practice on an empty stomach.

Moon Days

We do not recommend practicing on the full moon and new moon days. We advise you to take the days off and relax. Furthermore, they are perfect for meditation.

Joint lubrication is reduced on new moon days due to a drop in body fluids. On contrary, body fluids are excessively stimulated during full moon days. Performing a pose leads to greater mobility, which increases the body’s risk of injury due to excessive joint oscillation. A full moon injury is more severe and requires more time to recover.

Empty Bowel

Before beginning practice, one should have an empty bladder and bowels. This will ensure hassle-free practice.

Regular Practice

Maintaining regularity and consistency is essential in your practice and reaping its advantages. Rest days should be taken on the new moon and full moon days, during menstruation, and once a week (if you practice six days a week). Instead of training vigorously just a few times a week, it is advised to hold brief yet frequent sessions.

Menstruation

Women on their periods shouldn’t practice the first three days of their cycle. We also advise against performing inversions, deep twists, and other poses that impose pressure on the abdomen or uterus wall.

Due to the fluid loss, fatigue, and decreased stamina that occur during menstruation, as well as the resulting magnetic impact, women should wait two nights and one day before indulging in physical or mental exercise. Such effects will fade on the fourth day.

Diet

We recommend an alkaline diet consisting primarily of raw and organic foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins in small amounts.

Avoid drugs, alcohol, processed foods, too many carbohydrates, fast food, canned food, saturated fats, sweets, and excessive meat consumption. Keep yourself hydrated.

Some more experienced practitioners could fast once per week. This is recommended for practitioners to follow to increase flexibility quickly. But fasting should always be done cautiously and with the proper preparation.

Aparigraha

When learning Ashtanga yoga, adhere to the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor. Don’t push yourself to do more than you can. Enjoy your workout. Let it serve as a tool for healing and enlightenment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Beginners Do Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: Yes! Beginners can start doing Ashtanga Yoga but consulting a yoga guru is advisable as it consists of rigorous physical poses.

Q: What Are The 8 Elements Of Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: The eight elements are

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asanas
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

Q: Can I Do Ashtanga Yoga While Pregnant

Ans: No! Pregnant women shouldn’t practice this yoga as it consists of intense movements.

Q: How Many Sequences Are There In Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: There are six sequences in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Primary, Intermediate, and four Advanced Series), each of which has a standard set of poses.

Q: How Many Poses Are There In Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: The first series of Ashtanga yoga consists of 75 poses.

Q: What Are The Asanas In Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: The asanas are the third linmb of the ashtanga yoga. These physical positions make it possible to sit in certain contemplative positions for long periods while encouraging mental calmness.

Q: Who Is Ashtanga Yoga Best For

Ans: Asthana Yoga is great for all looking to calm their mind, promote mindful eating, increase muscle mass, reduce weight, improve overall well-being and further yoga enhance concentration.

Q: Who Is The Father Of Ashtanga Yoga

Ans: The father of ashtanga yoga is Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois.

Q: How Long Should You Practice Uttanasana?

Ans: Practiced Uttanasana Yoga for 10 to 30 seconds. Do it under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.

A Word From Fitelo

A great approach to start practicing yoga is with Ashtanga poses. Anyone may practice Ashtanga, and there are numerous advantages to doing so regularly. It is a physically and mentally transformative experience to practice this powerful kind of yoga.

We hope you know everything there is to know about Ashtanga yoga now. Why not give the practice a try the next time you hit the yoga mat? There is undoubtedly a tonne of advantages to it.

Fun Facts

Taking some fat-burning food and practicing yoga will help you in the weight loss journey. Flax seed is one such fat burner. Click the above link to learn more about its benefits and how to include it in your food.

Contact Us Today

So, are you looking for proper guidance and consultation on your weight gain or weight loss problems? If yes, then Contact Us Today and be a part of all those fat-to-fit stories. Our expert will help you attain your long-term fitness goals here.

Disclaimer

This blog post was written to help you to make healthy and better food choices altogether. So, be aware and take care. The important thing to consider is your own health before starting a diet that is restrictive. Always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian before starting if you have any concerns.

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