Ashtanga Yoga for Beginners

Time and again we have been discussing the more-than-unique life-altering discipline– ”Yoga”. And one of the most popular styles of yoga practiced across the globe is Ashtanga yoga. A famous yogi named K. Pattabhi Jois was the founder and the promoter of this yoga style. The name ‘Ashtanga’ is derived from the eight-limbs mentioned in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The Ashtanga yoga primarily focuses on improving the strength, flexibility, and breathing of a practitioner.

 

This dynamic, physically intense practice involves interlinking the breath with the postures to produce internal heat designed to efface the toxins from the body. The classical Ashtanga yoga comprises of 6 series of asanas– beginner, intermediate, and four advanced series. As you progress in the series, the difficulty level rises preparing you for the next. Similarly, each yoga posture practiced is designed to make the practitioner ready for the next yoga asanas.

It is no secret that Ashtanga yoga consists of some advanced yoga asanas practiced in the intermediate and advanced series. But, yoga beginners can very well practice the style of Ashtanga yoga and can reap its numerous benefits.

Here is the Ashtanga yoga sequence for beginners:

Surya Namaskar A

1. Samasthiti: Stand upright and tall on a yoga mat with feet close to each other. Tuck your tailbone and abdominal muscles in, roll your shoulder blades back and away from ears and arms at your sides.

2. Urdhva Hastasana: Upon inhalation; bend your knees, raise your arms overhead and fold your palms in prayer position. Gaze at your thumbs.

3. Uttanasana: Upon exhalation; bend forward at the hips and bring your arms down towards the floor. Relax your neck and head.

4. Ardha Uttanasana: Begin in Uttanasana and as you breathe in, lift your torso away from the thighs. Make sure your elbows are straightened and hips are aligned with the ankles.

5. Chaturanga Dandasana: As you breathe out, step back with your feet keeping your elbows tucked to your sides and gently lower your body to the floor. Make sure your knees are off the floor.

6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Upon inhalation, press your hands into the floor, lift your chest up, tilt your head backward and look up towards the sky.

7. Adho Mukha Svanasana: As you exhale, tuck your toes inwards, raise your posterior high and come into an upside down position.

8. Uttanasana: Bring your feet together, relax your neck and rest your arms on the floor.

9. Urdhva Hastasana: Upon inhalation, raise your arms up toward the sky and look at your thumbs.

10. Samasthiti: Upon exhalation, bring your arms to the side and straighten your spine.

Primary Series:

1. Paschimottanasana: Sit on a floor with straight spine and legs in front of you. While you breathe in, bow forward at the hip and extend your arms forward. Try to grab the feet with your hands. Keep your torso long and straight, and raise your head up high. Hold the pose for 15-20 seconds.

2. Janu Sirsasana: Begin in staff pose with arms at your side. Bend your right knee and place the right heel below the pubic bone. Your right foot should touch the inner left thigh. Fold forward over your left leg keeping your spine erect. Extend your right arm to hold the left foot. Bend your head and rest your nose on the leg. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.

3. Marichyasana: Sit on a yoga mat with extended legs, toes flexed and arms by your side. Bend both your knees. Drop your left knee to the floor. Bring your left foot under your right leg close to the right hip. Upon exhalation, raise your left arm overhead. Upon inhalation; turn your body to your right. Place your left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Take your right hand behind your body and place it on the ground. Twist your head over the right shoulder and hold the pose for 60 seconds.

4. Navasana: Sit straight on a floor and place your hands slightly behind your hips. Bend your knees and raise your feet up and above the floor such that your thighs are angled at 45 degrees. Gently straighten your knees and raise your legs a little higher. Keep your arms parallel to the floor. Remain in this pose for 15-20 seconds.

Finishing Series

1. Padmasana: Sit on a floor with legs stretched in front of you. Fold your right knee and place it over left thigh and repeat the same with left leg as well. Place your hands on the knees and keep your head straight. Hold the pose for several deep breaths.

2. Savasana: Lie straight on a yoga mat with arms beside you. Spread your arms away from your body and widen your feet about 2-3 inches. Close your eyes and remain in this pose for 3-5 minutes.

Practice this Ashtanga yoga for beginners under the guidance of a skilled yoga teacher to make the most out of your practice.

Ashtanga Yoga for Beginners