Ashtanga Yoga

Popularized by Hollywood actors like David Duchovny, Ashtanga Yoga is generally one of the more dynamic styles of yoga.  Ashtanga doubtless offers a great workout for the body with asanas (poses) carried out in swift flowing succession and co-ordinated breathing. With frequent practice you will develop toned lean muscles and increased strength.

The Moves

The practice of Vinsaya is what makes Ashtanga and its principles distinct from other yoga styles.

Vinsaya refers to the movement and breathing used for the internal cleansing process. Each movement is accompanied by only one inhaling or exhaling breath. Sweat is the most important product of Vinsaya, as this means that the body is detoxifying. The more sweat you create, the more toxins your body releases. This is part of the purification process.

The series of poses performed in Ashtanga Yoga are designed to help the practitioner reach his or her body’s strength and health potential. There are three postures used in Ashtanga Yoga, each suitable for different levels of practice.

The first is the Primary Series, which aims to align and detoxify the body.  The second focuses on opening and cleaning the energy channels, aiding the process of purifying the nervous system. The final series is designed to enhance grace and strength.

A Great Workout?

Ashtanga certainly offers you a wonderful way to raise your heart rate and tone your physique. And yet, Ashtanga offers so much more than just a good workout. Originally developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, “Ashtanga Yoga” literally means “Eight Limb Yoga”. This forms the basis for “Pattanjali’s idea” that purification is a process involving eight spiritual practices:

Yama – Self-restraint or ethical conduct
Niyama – Personal and religious observance of purity, devotion, and study
Asana – Physical activity
Pranayama – Breath control
Pratyahara – Abstraction of the senses
Dharana – Concentration
Dhyana – Meditation that leads to Samadhi
Samadhi – Absorption in the sublime and blissful awareness

The first four “limbs” are considered cleansing practices which are externally correctable. The other four limbs – pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, and samadhi – focus on internal practice.

I think it also informs some of my performing because it’s a good way to practice the ideas of equanimity and certain ideas of concentration and directing your mind.

Willem Dafoe

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