The Three Categories of Ashtanga Yoga

The Three Categories of Ashtanga Yoga

Article by Lucile Taylor

Sanskrit by nature, Ashtanga means “eight limbs”. So in yoga practice, Ashtanga refers primarily to the eight limbs of yoga that is detailed in one of the greatest books of India, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This relaxation technique was first introduced in the public centuries ago in India, and is said to have originated from an ancient text named the Yoga Korunta. The text was interpreted by two of Ashtaga yoga’s masters, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya.

Ashtanga yoga is in the first place a posture practice that deals primarily on the breath initiated movements experts call as Vinyasa. The breathing movements involved here are associated from one another, then speaking much of what yoga is all about – union.

Although unified, the postures of Ashtanga yoga are categorized into a number of series. There is what they call as the Primary, Intermediate, and Advanced postures; each is initiated with Sun Salutations. Standing postures govern all of these series as soon as the starting sun salutation postures are made. What is more interesting to know about each of the posture series that Ashtanga yoga possesses is that they involve certain movements that are unique from the rest. Often, the practice is closed with a finishing sequence, or the so-called back bending, such as the lotus, shoulderstand, and headstand.

For a beginner of Ashtanga yoga, it would take a number of weeks for the person to master the postures included in each series. The movements are initiated in a sequential manner, starting with those that belong to the Primary Series, which yogis refer to as the Yoga Chikitsa. These postures, if done properly, are said to help develop a calmer mind and a healthier body. It is composed of mostly hip openers and forward bends that are pretty simple for a starter to try out.

The Intermediate Series of Ashtanga yoga then involves a lot of back bends, and arm inversions and balances, as well. These poses are referred to as the Nadi Shodhana, which means “cleansing of the Nadies”. The Nadies are an energy channel that is generally subtle, but also the one from which the physical form is based The Intermediate posture series is considered as highly important in Ashtanga yoga as they are the main postures that purify and energize the body and the mind.

The Primary and Intermediate Series of Ashtanga should be performed for a number of months. Once they are mastered, they will be integrated into the body, allowing you to feel stronger than before. They also work to tone your muscles, and strengthen the various bodily organs. The Advanced Series comes in just right after the first two series are mastered. This last posture set is what yogis call as Sthira Bhaga, the ones responsible for promoting radiance.

Ashtanga yoga is valued today by many people for its athletic movements and style. Because of that, people who love order and an independent life are considered the perfect candidate for this practice.

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Lucile Taylor, an expert in Coaching, is a writer for

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