Hi beautiful yogis, welcome back to my blog 🙂
So, as what I had previously mentioned on my last blog, I’ll be dedicating 8 posts for all the types of yoga out there in detail. And for this one, we’ll be looking deeper into another type of yoga which is Ashtanga! 🙂 Ashtanga can be hard – I’m not going to lie.
If you have seen all those Instagram-worthy yoga pose photos doing something you think you’d never be able to do in a lifetime – they are most likely ashtanga yoga. It is hard, yes, it takes practice, yes, but is it impossible to do Ashtanga yoga for beginners? I don’t think so.
With that being said; however, I do suggest to first start with Hatha yoga so that you can learn all the fundamentals yoga poses first before dipping your toes to Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga for me, personally, takes a lot of muscle work. Meaning that I usually need to do more training on my core, my shoulder strength, my arms etc before practicing a challenging pose or flow.
If you’re not someone who is used to training the muscles, don’t worry my dear! It all takes practice 🙂
Before we get started, let’s dive in into some history of Ashtanga yoga!
P/s: To read on where I do my daily yoga practice, check out my review on Alo Moves here.
Read More: Different Types of Yoga And Their Benefits
History of Ashtanga Yoga
So, remember when I told you guys about the godfather of yoga, Patanjali Maharishi? Well, if he’s the godfather of yoga, let’s try to imagine that T. Krishnamacharya is the father of modern yoga – the teacher of other famous prominent figures in yoga who had established different modern types of yoga out there. One of the students is Pattabhi Jois (the founder of Ashtanga yoga).
T. Krishnamacharya is basically a legend in yoga by perfecting the idealization of Hatha yoga. & He had his great personal followers namely:-
- & his son
Pattabhi Jois took over Krishnamacharya’s place after he left Mysore, India and taught what now is known as Ashtanga yoga. Since then, Ashtanga yoga had basically become famous and practiced throughout India, Europe and U.S. He had been invited to numerous international destinations to teach people ever since.
So, you can get the idea of Ashtanga came about and how it became pretty famous and have a large following all over the world. If I’m not mistaken, now, you still have a chance to learn from Jois’s son which is now the figurehead of Ashtanga yoga.
Ashtanga Is Hard, Here’s How To Learn
1.Practice and Consistency
Like many other things I had mentioned previously in my blog, practice and consistency will lead you to success! 🙂 And that goes the same with Ashtanga yoga – practice makes perfect.
2. Try Easy Poses First
Similar to any other yoga type, there are beginner-friendly poses out there for you to try out. Once you get the hang of it, feel free to go deeper into more challenging poses. Yoga is also about discovering your body’s limit too. Sometimes when I’m practicing Ashtanga, it feels pretty amazing getting able to do something you thought you’d never able to do. So start slow, and build it up 🙂
3. Take Your Time
Things to keep in mind with Ashtanga yoga is that there’s no such thing as rushing. What I mean by this is that sometimes some poses need more warm-up for our body to adapt and be more flexible. So don’t rush your body into doing a backbend you’ve never done in your life. Know your body limit and focus on asanas body movement above all – how’s your neck, your abs, your shoulders. You kinda have to keep in mind on what’s happening with your body when doing Ashtanga yoga 🙂
Focus on the breathing as well. Try to take slow deep breaths for each pose.
5. Find Your Dhristi.
Dhristi, in essence, is the focal point that you wanna focus on for each pose. There will be basically a point for you to look at for each pose like your fingers, your nose – well, your teacher will let you know 🙂 so you don’t need to worry so much on this.
Once you have mastered the asanas (poses), breathing and dhristi, you are able to unlock “tristasana”. It’s what believed to be a state of mediation even when you’re doing asanas. However, it can take a long time for any yogis to be able to achieve that. (But don’t give up just yet ok)
5 Basic Ashtanga Yoga Poses For Beginners
1. Triangle Pose
- From Warrior Pose 1 (right knee bent), engage your core and straighten your right leg
- On an exhale, bring your right hand down to the side of your right feet
- Left hand reaching upwards
- Keep your neck long and gaze to your left hand
- Open up your chest and collarbone
- Repeat on the left side
2. Hand to Big Toe Pose
- From mountain pose, bring your left knee to your belly
- Your left hand holds your left toes as you stretched out your left leg and hand
- The pull will help stabilise your pose
- Try not bend over and keep your body straight
- As beginners, you can try holding on to a chair first.
- Repeat on the right side
3. Wid Leg Forward Bend Pose
- Keep your feet apart on your mat, as wide as comfortable
- Your hands can be at your waist
- On an exhale, gently bend down
- Your palms will touch the yoga mat, wrist below shoulders
- Rest the crown of your head on the yoga mat
4. Chair Pose
- From mountain pose, inhale slowly and bring your hands forward in front of you, parallel to the floor.
- Feet width apart
- As you exhale, bend the knees gently and reach your hands upwards, hips down
- Feel the ground below your feet
- Relax your shoulders while keeping your hands upwards as you take in the positive energy
- Make sure your hips above your knee level
- To release from this position, straighten your legs in an inhale. In an exhale, release the arms to your side
5. Warrior 1 Pose
- One foot at the front of the mat, and one foot behind.
- Bend your front knee.
- Ideally we want the hip to be parallel to the mat, but if it’s hard, then it’s okay to take your time with this pose.
- Look forward.
- Make sure you tuck in your tail bone and your body not to lean forward.
- Activate your core to keep your body straight and spine long, again (head over heart, heart over pelvis).
- Move your hands from behind your ears upward and breathe.
- Spread your finger as if you’re catching every positive vibe there is in the room.
Is Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners?
Ashtanga yoga can be scary for beginners but try not to let the class scare you haha (thanks for the help Wina).
You can always start with the beginner-friendly class like I had mentioned above. And again, try to master your basic fundamental poses first before attempting to do a new challenging pose.
That being said, as a yoga beginner in Ashtanga, expect to fail and to accept that it’s okay. Everyone goes through the same hurdle. Start small 🙂 Ashtanga can be great fun! I’d definitely suggest to give it a go first.
Before I end my post here, my number one advise in Ashtanga yoga is to NOT play the comparison game. Everyone has a different kind of body and some people might have been practicing for years, for all you know. Avoid at all cost to compare yourself with anyone in the class and especially on Instagram.
If you are going to take the plunge with Ashtanga yoga, don’t give up 🙂
It is indeed hard and needs practice, but it’s totally worth it to see how far your body can go. And activating the muscle you never knew you had! Haha
Well, after reading this pose, are you up for Ashtanga yoga if you’re a beginner? 🙂 Let me know in the comment!
Till next time, Namaste 🙂