Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga | Concept of Ashtanga Yoga: Its Background & Styles
The preservation and safeguarding of one’s health is one of the most important things that we should look out for instead of anything else. As enunciated in the well-known principle that “Health is Wealth”, one must find ways on how to have regimen and ways in order to maintain a sound and good health.
As man yet to discover the path to the fountain of youth, more people nowadays tend to craft strategies on how to keep a healthy and balance routine, in terms of being health conscious and being fit, not only physically but as well mentally.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, or commonly known as simply Ashtanga Yoga, is a type of yoga exercise popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois throughout 20th century. This form of yoga is based on the classical or traditional Indian yoga.
Ashtanga yoga means “eight-limbed yoga” which is based in eight spiritual practices such as the external cleansing practices, breath control, sense control, concentration, meditation, and absorption to the universe.
On the other hand, Ashtanga yoga is Patanjali’s classification of classical yoga, as set out in his Yoga Sutras. He defined the eight limbs as yamas (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption).-Wikipedia
Covid-19 Pandemic Made People More Aware of their Health, both Physically and Mentally
This time of pandemic, people are more conscious in their personal health and even in the health of their loved ones. As a result, people take charge of their own sanity and own fitness.
Though lots of restrictions are imposed by the government pertaining to leisure and sports, particularly gyms, individuals are still finding ways to promote and maintain their well-being and own health.
Some are doing outdoor exercise like jogging and even walking. Contact sports, however, are still very much regulated. Some choose to stay indoors and have their workouts done in home, doing personal exercises and meditation yoga.
The Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
The objective, though, is to attain spiritual transformation and union through exacting and difficult poses, with the use of proper meditation occasioned by strategic breathing sequence.
Aside from this, Ashtanga yoga helps in creating heat in the body, hence, facilitating the blood flow circulation, detoxification, and body realignment.
In sum, Ashtanga yoga, as a contemporary yoga practice, is regarded as the most dynamic and athletic type or style of yoga execution.
Albeit this style of yoga is no far different from the traditional and classical yogas that are being practiced, Ashtanga is a dynamic and complex one, as it requires strict considerable factors first such as the initial strength, endurance, and quick movements before one can properly execute the various poses of this yoga.
There are various styles and poses the Ashtanga yoga offers. The one who performs these may surely enjoy. Lots of benefits to the body may result by engaging with this type of yoga.
As mentioned, gaining strength, having vigor, flexibility, fat burning, and weight loss may be the effective results of Ashtanga. One can also maintain his or her fitness and body shape.
Why the practice of yoga may be important?
Yoga nowadays is widely known. It is indulged mostly as a form of physical and mental exercise in order to promote the well-being of a person.
In general, its purpose is to connect the mind, body, and spirit. It is a mind and body practice of various styles, combined postures, and breathing techniques for meditation and also for relaxation.
Yoga is proven, and astoundingly credible, in promoting physical strength, endurance, flexibility, and even calmness for mental health and sanity. It is believed that Yoga originated from India over 5,000 years ago.
Currently, and as the result of the changes in time, traditional yoga techniques have evolved and developed. Modern yoga techniques, types, and kinds have been known widely and being taught by many. One of these is the Ashtanga Yoga.
What is the concept of Ashtanga Yoga?
Because of the development of yoga techniques and style, Ashtanga Yoga has been popularized and popularly practiced. It offers sequence or series of positions and techniques that is not far different from the classical or traditional yoga styles. Yet, it is more complex, advanced, and difficult than other yoga practices.
The approach in Ashtanga Yoga is quite different from other types. Here, the students are first taught by the teacher the different poses and sequences. They are expected to memorize these poses and to further do it their own.
The yoga teacher’s main role is to teach the postures to the students, make sure that they memorize the poses, guide them in making proper body adjustments, and assist the students to execute proper positions.
Ashtanga yoga is referred to as a physically demanding style of yoga owing to its complexities and difficulties in the style of poses and difficult limb movements. Its emphasis is more of connecting the movement of the body and the breathing strategies.
It is regarded as a very dynamic and an athletic form of yoga. Not all can execute the poses required in Ashtanga Yoga. Yet, it can be done trough constant and consistent practice and imbibing discipline.
Why is Ashtanga so hard?
Some of the teachers of Ashtanga Yoga prefer their students to execute first other forms of yoga. They discourage beginners to embark on Ashtanga yoga because of its dynamic and difficult styles and series.
This form of yoga is quite intimidating to those who are new to this. It requires quick movement and holding body weights as well. Because of its difficulty, the balance and posture execution are, among others, the most important aspects of this Yoga.
Thus, weight, fitness, and shape of an individual practicing this are being considered. Ashtanga yoga requires flexibility to properly execute the poses. This is necessary for this yoga execution in order to provide physical strength, vigor, endurance, and stamina.
If one decides to do and practice Ashtanga yoga, he or she has to commit and must have the dedication to pursue the very difficult part, which is starting Ashtanga yoga.
He or she has to first familiarize himself or herself with the certain poses that this yoga practice requires him or her to execute.
These are the degree of difficulties of the poses, the fundamentals of the sequence of series of styles and poses, the proper posture, and the proper execution and the timing of the poses.
Is Ashtanga the hardest yoga?
It may one of the hardest yoga exercises. Nonetheless, it is still doable if you commit yourself and have consistency. The teacher will engage the student to do less poses first. He would not require advance sequences, especially for the beginners as it may result to injuries.
As mentioned, Ashtanga yoga provides physical strength, vigor, endurance, and stamina. This form of yoga has been widely used not only by yoga enthusiasts but commonly by some athletes. therefore, it is the reason why it is regarded as the athletic form of yoga.
It helps athletes, among others, to gain endurance and energy in their respective sports and plays. For them, practicing Ashtanga yoga will give them more power and will accordingly help them in performing better in every play or activity that they will do.
Yoga enthusiast resorts to Ashtanga because of its proven and tested ability to burn fats. It, thus, promotes weight loss while maintaining body-toned figure and fitness, owing to its dynamic and flexible poses.
Ashtanga Yoga Poses
The sequences and series of poses in Ashtanga yoga, accordingly, are composed of six series, the primary series, the intermediate series, and four parts for the advance series.
The six series are:
The Primary series: Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga for Health or Yoga Therapy
The Intermediate series: Nadi Shodhana, The Nerve Purifier (also called the Second series)
The Advanced series: Sthira Bhaga, Centering of Strength
Advanced A, or Third series
Advanced B, or Fourth series
Advanced C, or Fifth series
Advanced D, or Sixth series-Wikipedia
These series have been simply taught as the standing poses, which are the initial positions to be done, the intermediate poses or the advanced next to the standing ones, and lastly, the finishing poses.
In standing poses, this consists of series of standing still. There is also a sun salutation pose, the hand to foot poses, extended sideways pose, spread feet stretching poses. The students may also do sideways stretching poses.
In intermediate poses, there are series of poses that are hard to execute for beginners and even to those who are not new to the workout.
Some of the intermediary poses are derived from the animals poses such as the:
- heron pose
- frog pose
- camel pose
- dove pose
- crow pose
- firefly pose
- crocodile pose
- cow face pose
There are also Indian traditional yoga poses such as the:
- open hand head pose
- west back pose
- drop back pose
- two feet behind pose
In the finishing poses, Ashtanga yoga has several poses like the following:
- limb pose
- tear pressure pose
- the embryo pose
- sprung up pose
- even a corpse pose
Interestingly, while Ashtanga Yoga requires difficult sequence or series of poses, its complexity had been the reason why some yoga enthusiasts and athletes are more inclined to choose Ashtanga than any other types of yoga being done worldwide.
Although this yoga is not new, it became one of the most popular yoga styles widely performed, as mentioned. The reason being is that it has difficult and distinct form of poses and styles.
While the practice of this yoga may prove difficult. However, with dedication and sincerity as well as initiative and consistency, one can achieve the powerful benefits this type of yoga may bring.
The preservation and safeguarding of one’s health should be the primordial consideration rather than anything else. Keeping healthy and active is one way we can build a more personal connection with our inner selves.