What to Learn in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series
Came a long way in practicing yoga and now looking for a dynamic, self-led routine? Find your lead with Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. The legacy of the great masters, Krishnamacharya, Sri Pattabhi Jois, and other adherents of the Mysore Ashtanga school, Ashtanga demands a strong initiation under the stern-eyed supervision and the guidance of an experienced teacher. Came a long way in practicing yoga and now looking for a dynamic, self-led routine? Find your lead with Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. The legacy of the great masters, Krishnamacharya, Sri Pattabhi Jois, and other adherents of the Mysore Ashtanga school, Ashtanga demands a strong initiation under the stern-eyed supervision and the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
A great many intricacies play into the practice of Ashtanga yoga, the crux of which is the “breath” element. Ashtanga through its primary series can really teach you how to be peaceful in your breathing and practically beat every difficulty that may come your way with the rejuvenating power of heartful breathing. The act of breathing, in the advanced stage of your Ashtanga practice, will weave into vinyasa flow. This is a distinguishing feature of Ashtanga yoga which emphasizes how there is no break in the creation and in the essence of being. If you decide to delve into the world of Ashtanga’s yoga efficacy, remind yourself of the moments of hardship what the great master Pattabhi Jois had said—“practice and everything else is coming”.
Here are some critical pointers for Ashtangis:
The Act of Breathing is Central
The infrastructure of Ashtanga is made of breathing. Each movement in this practice is intensified with breath, and each posture is held in relation to breath. According to the principles of Ashtanga, the search for wellness, health, and peace which is the quest, is attained through the medium of breath. Prana or the vital life force is implicit in a breath, which must be raised from the level of a mechanical bodily phenomenon to a conscious practice. This discipline of practice is understood as pranayama. While there are several pranayama routines, the one that is identified with Ashtanga is Ujjayi pranayama or ocean breathing. In the Ashtanga primary series, you will find an overwhelming portion dedicated to Ujjayi –based Ashtanga yogasanas.
The Ashtanga way of breathing promotes well-being thoroughly with a deeply involved, diaphragmatic respiratory process. This is how it is followed—
- The first movement is that of the diaphragm deeply being pulled down to the base of the belly
- This creates an adverse pressure on the lungs, causing the air accumulation in the chest cavity until the point the diaphragm can’t get any lower.
- At this point, the ribcage is made to widen and thus expanding the lung capacity
- Finally, the lungs inflate to the maximum and the air is charged out through the nose, unless channeled through the mouth for more profound effect (often practiced in Ujjayi by sounding the exhalation)
An Ashtangi has to remain super-aware when performing the postures because breathing must be this way, regardless of what posture you are executing.The Nine Drishtis or Focusing GazeIf you have attended any yoga class worth the effort, you are no stranger to instructors asking students to find and fix one’s own gaze. Now this gaze or dristi that would be introduced in the primary series, is of great significance in Ashtanga. Focused gaze is integral to one’s quest of attaining pratyahara or sense withdrawal and dharana or concentration-two major tenets of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga.
The directive, as explained for the nine dristis goes as follows:
Looking at the thumb, for example, in the upward salute in the Sun Salutation
Looking at the tip of the nose, for example, in Uttanasana as in Standing Forward Fold, and many inversion asanas.
Looking at hands, as in Trikonasana or the Triangle Pose
Looking sideways to the left
and right consecutively, usually following the direction of the hand
Upward dristi looking at the infinity, this may be executed in Utkatasana or the Chair Pose or Virabhadrasana I or the Warrior Pose I
Using navel as a focal point, as in the gaze in Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog
Looking at the toes as in Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend
This is the dristi of the one who has attained Samadhi- the ultimate stage of Ashtanga. The gaze will be inwards, with eyes closed looking toward the gap between the two eyebrows where a third eye is supposed to manifest.
Vinyasa is the flow style pattern of performing asana sequence with which you are likely to be familiar at the end of a full-fledged Ashtanga class introducing the primary series. While vinyasa might not be a beginner’s first choice of doing yoga, it can be certainly built upon the thorough practice of the yoga poses fit for beginners that are part of the Ashtanga introductory series. Ashtanga could take a yogi far deeper and get one for profoundly engaged with yoga than any other styles; it is certainly meant for the ones who dare to venture.
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