Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, of which asana or physical yoga posture is merely one branch, breath or pranayama is another.
Vinyasa is a Sanskrit term which means synchronization of the movement on the breath.
We thus define Vinyasa as a chain(sequence of movements) of dynamic movements, introduced and harmonized by and with the breath.
« Power Yoga »is a generic term that may refer to any type of aerobically vigorous yoga derived from Ashtanga yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga is a highly structured vinyasa-style class. There are six Ashtanga asana series and each student must master every pose of the first series before moving onto the second series. Ashtanga Yoga came to the west through students of Sri Pattabi Jois, who passed away in 2009 after establishing his yoga center in Mysore, India.
The first series begins with ten sun salutations (five A and five B), continues with a series of standing poses done on each side, and finishes with a set of inversions and seated poses, which are linked by a vinyasa sequence.
Beginners beware! This is a tough class. You may want to try some other asana classes in order to learn the basic poses before jumping into an Ashtanga practice.
In what a Vinyasa consist in :
Looks like this : Adho Mukha Svanasana to plank, then Chaturanga (Four Limbs staff pose), then Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) and then back in Adho Mukha Svanasana.
The purpose :
The ultimate purpose of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice is purification of the body and mind. By moving so quickly and powerfully, you will get a lot of tapas (discipline) and everything extra, physical and mental, will have to get out the way. This practice has a strong sense of purpose and you are forced to focus and grow with it.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga comes with all the benefits of a regular yoga practice as strength, flexibility, cardio, muscular toning, stress management, and inner peace. Because the series is so demanding (and in traditional practice you're supposed to practice daily except Sundays and moon days) you will get really strong really fast. There is no part of the body that doesn't work hard in this practice.
Ashtanga Vinyasa allows an internal cleaning, by breathing deeply, the body warms itself and perspires. Then, the blood boils and clears us of toxins stored in the body.
In the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa, the breath and the movement are linked so that every action pulled and prepared to the other one.
The ideal is to let its breath guide the movement, so this one becomes the engine.
I always teach my students :One Move, One Breath!!
And I compare Ashtanga Vinyasa to a dance choreography, fluid, graceful and punctuated by the breath. And that choreography never stops till Shavasana!!
The inspirations are bound to the ascending movements which open the face before of the body. The expirations are bound to the movements of twisting where the stomach is compressed and in the movements of flexion forwards.
Can I practise Ashtanga Vinyasa??
It’s for you, if you want a challenge and you love structure. Days after days, the practise is the same, and it takes most people years to move up a level. You will learn to be very patient, stay discipline and dedicate to your practise.
It’s a tough practise, sometimes thankless, sometimes you want to move on something else…but at the end, you stick into the practise, and after efforts and strong minding, you got the posture as a reward and you move on into the series!!
You will also learn the meaning of being humble and honest with you…Satyam (second Yama which means truthfulness).
The competition has not its place in yoga and more in Ashtanga Vinyasa, your body will remind it to you!!
When you will be crazy about this practise, you won’t start a day without it.
You know, if I can’t practise (it’s very rare!!!), I have this feeling that my day won’t be good, I’m feeling stuck in my body and my mind is not focus as usual!!
It may be only a feeling, but I like to start my day in good mood in a light body…and you?
The ceaseless movement of Ashtanga Vinyasa traced on the breath brings you into a big concentration on the present moment, in a state close to the meditation.
I’ll recommend Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga to everybody who wants to take the responsibilities of their life and their path to the Buddha state (Samadhi).
Angie Sattà Fortino
Certified Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga Teacher
Founder AngieYoga Teacher Training School
(E-RYT200 Yoga Alliance)