Kate Kendall’s guide to Ashtanga yoga!

Kate Kendall
Photography by ImagesByChantel.com

So you’ve been to a few yoga classes now and people are starting to ask you what style you practice. If your answer is something like “the normal type” I’m guessing you don’t actually know. The good news? I’m about to educate you. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take you through some of the benefits and characteristics of some of the more popular types of yoga. You’ll sound like a yoga pro in no time! First up is Ashtanga yoga. Renowned for being a fairly dynamic and ‘athletic’ practice, Ashtanga will give you an awesome core workout. It also offers an excellent balance between stretch and strength.

How to pronounce it

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Ash-tang-a

Origins

Made popular by K Pattabhi Joi, Ashtanga yoga was originally intended for energetic teenage boys for the purpose of calming, grounding and opening their hips so they could sit comfortably and focus on their school work.

Benefits

Mentally: it creates focus and clarity.

Physically: it offers a full body workout. It’s great for toning everything.

What to expect

You’ll generally be led through what’s called the ‘primary series’. These are a set of postures that are practiced in the same sequence and order each time. This is great for measuring your progress as well as creating a more meditative practice, where you don’t really have to think about what’s coming next so much. However, be aware that you don’t fall into ‘auto-pilot’ and tune out. The intention, rather, is to tune in and be present.

The more advanced ‘Ashtangi’ will complete the secondary series. You may also come across the word ‘mysore’ in Ashtanga. This refers to when you go to your yoga studio or ‘shala’ and do either the primary or secondary series un-led (without a teacher calling the postures). However, there will be a teacher walking around adjusting.