Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners. A Complete Guide

Ashtanga yoga, which we know as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, is yoga’s dynamic form. It is based on particular gazing points, controlled breathing, and postures. Are you a beginner in this field and want to know about Ashtanga yoga in detail? Just dig into the article. Do you want to know what are the advantages of ashtanga yoga for beginners? This yoga helps to increase strength and flexibility. Along with this, it can help you to increase your overall health. But if you are a beginner, you may feel confused when you come to know that you need to undergo multiple poses, series, different breathing ways, etc. To know, check the entire article.

What is Ashtanga yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is one of the dynamic styles of yoga that originated in Mysore. More than thousands of people practice this yoga worldwide. As this practice connects the breath with movement, every posture is connected to the next one with the breath.

In this case, you should know that the term comes from two Sanskrit words:

  • Astau indicates eight.
  • Anga indicates limb.

This yoga translates to eight-limbed yoga. Patanjali, the great sage, taught us about this yoga. He was the Yoga Sutras’ author. People know these as a few foundational texts of classical yoga philosophy. It is assumed that Sanskrit was the language in which these were written approximately 2000 years ago.

Ashtanga yoga 8 limbs

These are the eight limbs, including:

  • Yamas: Human behavior and how humans conduct themselves in life.
  • Niyamas: self-discipline and spiritual observances.
  • Asana: the postures which are practiced in yoga.
  • Pranayama: breath control.
  • Pratyahara: withdrawal or sensory transcendence.
  • Dharana: concentration.
  • Dhyana: meditation.
  • Samadhi: state of ecstasy.

Practicing this yoga allows you to work to unify your body and mind. While performing this yoga, people come to learn how to bring attention to the breath, along with bringing attention to the movements.

There are several famous yoga types that evolved from Ashtanga yoga. A few of these yogas include breathing, the flow from posture to posture. Whereas something like a workout also evolved from ashtanga yoga. One instance of this kind of yoga is Vinyasa flow.

Can a Beginner do Ashtanga Yoga?

Is it good to perform ashtanga yoga for beginners? If you are a beginner, you can practice this Ashtanga yoga by following a few easy steps. Usually, these yoga studios provide introductory or beginner classes. Therefore, beginners can learn the fundamental things of this practice. Besides, they will get to know how to breathe properly and do poses of Ashtanga yoga.

Can You Teach Yourself Ashtanga Yoga?

Are you pondering whether is it difficult to learn ashtanga yoga for beginners? Although it is possible to teach this yoga yourself, you must visit a teacher when you are totally a newbie. Visiting a good teacher enables you to prevent any potential injuries. They can guide you and tailor the practice to the requirements.

The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

ashtanga yoga for beginners

Ashtanga yoga has six series in total and The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series is the first one of them. Many people practice the Primary series categorized into four sets of poses, including Sun salutations, standing postures, Seated postures, and the Closing Sequence.

After completion of the opening mantra, the teacher sets the breath tempo. You can see the design of the sequence of Ashtanga yoga such that every posture offers an essential foundation for the following postures. Gaining more experience allows humans to make their bodies more flexible and powerful. As a result, a human can get more access to the postures.

Ashtanga Namaskara:

Do you want to know how the yoga practice of Ashtanga yoga for beginners gets started? Then you should know that ashtanga namaskara is the one through which the practice gets started. You should do this yoga to make your body ready for practice. It comes with two sets of sun salutations which are Sun salutation A and Sun Salutation B.

The first one comes with nine vinyasas, and you must practice this five times. On the other hand, the second one has 17 vinyasas, and you can practice it between 3 and 5 times. Remember that every practice starts with the Sun Salutations. You need to remember that each vinyasa is a breath-movement flow. During this yoga, you need to make sure that the duration of every inhalation and exhalation is the same. For instance, you are inhaling and raising your hands over your head. Then, you are exhaling and fold forward. While inhaling, you need to look up. Whereas, while exhaling, you need to come to the lower plank.

Ashtanga Yoga Standing Poses

Once you complete your warm-up in the Sun Salutations, you must go ahead toward the standing series of poses. You must stay in every pose for five breaths. Hence, remember that these poses mainly focus on alignment, balance, and flexibility. To perform Padangusthasana Vinyasa, you need to enter the “big toe” pose from the mountain pose.

  • First, you need to jump the feet hip-width while inhaling.
  • Next, your task is to bend forward. Now, you have to grab the toes while exhaling.
  • While inhaling, you need to lengthen the spine and neck.
  • Then you need to exhale. While doing this, you have to bend forward.
  • Make sure that you are holding this for 5 breaths.

Ashtanga Yoga Seated Poses

This part includes the seated postures that let you stay in for five breaths. The poses involve hip openings, hamstring, etc. You should know that the poses can vary based on the flexibility of people.

People prefer seated postures because they do a Vinyasa in between every seated posture. We can say it as a mini version of the sun salutation when we are unable to stand up. Hence, you must flow through your posture as a low plank, up the dog, downward-facing dog, and sitting. Each flow makes you ready for the next posture.

Ashtanga Yoga Finishing Sequence

It can take you through an energetic culmination. In this stage, you need to decrease the speed of breathing so that you can turn the concentration inward. You need to stay in these postures for around 8 to 10 breaths, but it depends on the posture.

Savasana (corpse pose) is the ending point of this practice, which helps to keep your heart rate steady.

How Is Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners Taught?

Beginners can learn it in two different ways. The first way is a led (or guided) class where the teacher has to guide the class via the Ashtanga yoga poses. Another one for teaching ashtanga yoga for beginners is the Mysore-style class, where students need to memorize the postures. For beginners, both are perfect.

Ashtanga Yoga Benefits

These are a few benefits of performing Ashtanga Yoga. Let’s check it.

Increase in Physical Strength:

Several poses need weight-bearing. Therefore, when you do this practice with vinyasas again and again throughout the seated postures, yoga helps you to enhance muscle strength.

Increase In Flexibility:

Performing this yoga can help you to improve flexibility. A study of 12 volunteers took place & was split into two groups:

Group A: A yoga group of college-age, untrained females.

Group B: There is a control group that is full of active college-age females.

Group A did this two times a week and continued this for three months. But the control group did more physical activities than the others. Results said that the yoga group got improved muscular endurance in their upper bodies and boosted flexibility. Besides, it helps to improve depression, anxiety, and self-esteem; boost overall Health and improve weight Management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Difference between ashtanga yoga vs vinyasa

Ans- The rigidity of the postures’ sequence makes the difference between Ashtanga and Vinyasa. You need to perform the same sequence of poses every time when you are in Ashtanga classes in the same order. But if you are in Vinyasa class, you can find more variation and interpretations of flow sequences.

2. Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga

Ans- You should know that Ashtanga yoga is a type of classic yoga of Patanjali, who defined these 8 limbs — Yamas, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. You can see a sequence formed by these limbs from the outside to the inside.

3. Is Ashtanga the hardest yoga

Ans- It is the hardest yoga style consisting of 6 series. But if someone wants to practice the first series, he or she will need months or years.

4. What makes different Ashtanga yoga from yoga??

Ans- This is a rigorous yoga style. Just like vinyasa yoga, while performing this one, you need to follow a few particular sequences of postures. And every style is connected with every movement with breathing. However, the difference is while performing Ashtanga yoga, you need to perform the same poses in the same order always.

5. Why is Ashtanga not popular?

Ans- Basically, repetitiveness is the largest mental challenge while performing this yoga, as people need to do the same poses again in the same order daily. But if you don’t see any improvement, it may be infuriating.


After going through this article, you have come to know about Ashtanga yoga, its primary series, its advantages, and so on. You should know that Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a yoga style that K. Pattabhi Jois made famous during the twentieth century. It is also called classical Indian yoga, following modern-day form. According to Jois, he learned the system from Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.

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