Yogais steeped in history and tradition. It began over 5,000 years ago. Several different types of yoga have emerged and each offer their own unique practice. Our newest series will explore various yoga practices.
Jess, a Yoga District teacher, explores the ancient tradition of Ashtanga Yoga and how it does not need to be an intimidating practice.
Feel free to attend one of our Ashtanga inspired classes (listed in post) and Jess’s upcoming workshop:
If you’re wondering about Ashtanga yoga then don’t be afraid to try it out! It builds strength, flexibility, coordination and symmetry in the body through set sequences.
Ashtanga Yoga History & Overview
Ashtanga can be a very intimidating practice because of its strong ties to tradition and rigid sequencing. Yet it is actually the root of all modern vinyasa flow practices. In the 1950’s, Ashtanga yoga began to spread to the West via K. Pattabhi Jois, a direct student of Krishnamacharya. Eventually westerners adapted the practice to better suit their needs and the needs of their students. It evolved into Power Yoga and other more familiar types of yoga.
Ashtanga is generally practiced Mysore style. This style originated in Mysore, India. In Mysore practice, students are not led together by a teacher but instead practice at their own pace. The teacher gives them poses of a set sequence one by one that they must memorize. Students may not progress past the pose they have been given or make modifications to either the sequence or each pose.
Ashtanga Primary Series
The most commonly practiced sequence is the Primary Series:
It starts with the Sun Salutations and standing poses like warriors and triangles (the same standing poses that we know and love)!
The sequence then moves towards aseries of seated postures that become progressively more pretzel-like. There’s a vinyasa (jump back to chaturanga, upward facing dog, downward facing dog, jump right back through to the seat) between each seated posture.
All Ashtanga practices end with the finishing series. It starts with 5 rounds of bridge or wheel pose and then moves into cooling inversions followed by meditative postures to prepare the body for rest.
Principles of Ashtanga
Whether you’re a Mysore practitioner or simply a yogi that dabbles in led primary series then the principles of the practice are the same:
pranayama (breath focused)
You may have heard these terms used in a vinyasa flow class since they are so integral to the vinyasa method.
Ashtanga Yoga Classes
Ashtanga yoga is held very sacred to some who only practiced it Mysore style. Yet, others wish Ashtanga to be accessible to a wider group of practitioners.
Teachers who hold a more progressive view may lead primary or modified primary series classes. These classes invite students to try out the full series even if they have to modify or skip some poses(or some of the 40+ vinyasas typically practiced in a primary series).
Ashtanga doesn’t have to be intimidating! Yoga District offersAshtanga inspired classes along with three weekly led primary series. Don’t worry, we keep it approachable and will help you to modify the sequence and poses to fit your body and level.
Wednesdays 7:45, Ashtanga Flow (All Levels) @ Columbia Heights
Thursdays 6:45 PM, Ashtanga Inspired Flow1.5-2 @ I Street
Ashtanga Yoga is now one of my favorite practices. I love the mobility, symmetry, and awareness it cultivated in my body.
In the workshop: you’ll learn the origins of Ashtanga, be instructed in Pranayama (breathwork work), run through a 90-minute asana practice (break down the poses and transitions) of modified primary sequence series. Come ready to sweat, deepen your practice and connection to the roots of flow yoga.
Join me and you might just fall in love with the Ashtanga too!
The Yoga District 200 and 500 hour teacher training certification programs, registered by the Yoga Alliance are unique in their emphasis on diversity of teaching styles studied, personal attention, and trauma sensitive yoga. It's no coincidence that Yoga District is regularly voted the leading studio in the nation's capital, and that most of its classes are taught by graduates of its training program. As a full time yoga school, small group trainings are led up to eight times a year by a dedicated faculty including Jasmine Chehrazi, contributor to the Harvard Karma Yoga Project teacher training, teacher training faculty at George Washington University, Yoga Alliance Standards Committee Advisory Board Member, Yoga Activist Founder, and Yoga Service Council Advisory Board Member. So take your practice and community involvement to the next level by joining a training. There's a reason why our graduates call the training "transformative."
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