Ashtanga Yoga benefits body, heart, and mind. It is a practice that purifies, strengthens, detoxifies and aligns the body, combining the benefits of Yoga and Exercise.
Classes consist of:
Breathing – We learn deep breathing techniques, learning how to use the diaphragm efficiently to get more oxygen in our blood stream and to every cell in our bodies. The deep breathing method removes stress, and calms our mind while energizing our bodies.
Topic of the month – Each month there is a topic, generally it is related to yogic philosophy, nutrition, lifestyle habit, or yogic exercise. At the beginning of class we talk briefly about the topic (approx. 5 minutes or less).
Sun Salutes – These warm up the body and get the blood flowing. It is here that we set the rhythm and mood of our yoga session, establishing the relationship between movement and breath.
Standing Poses – These begin the opening process in the external body; develop strength and balance. Standing poses are a balance between rooting and lifting. The feet stay firmly rooted building us a strong foundation, from this base we rise and expand, lifting and lengthening into each asana (pose).
Seated Poses – The seated poses are known as yoga therapy. It is a healing process of cleansing and toning for the body, mind, and nervous system. The asanas are arranged in a time tested sequence designed specifically to detoxify the organs and make the body healthy. Many practitioners of the primary series have found it to assist in their healing process, whether it is mental or physical.
Inversions – Inversions are NOT included in beginner classes. Inversions are known as the king and queen of yoga poses, they are empowering by nature and bring vitality to the practitioner. Inversions are good for improving blood flow in the body, balancing our hormones and endocrine systemt and aiding in the removal of toxins from the organs.
Relaxation – The return to stillness. In this place of stillness you will find the revitalizing and nurturing effects of the relaxation pose. Allow yourself time to absorb the energy; relish the stillness. Here is where your body relaxes and allows the toxins and tensions dislodged by the practice to be carried off and eliminated. This pose is just as important as all the other poses.
There are several elements that are unique to Ashtanga yoga and set it apart from other forms. These, although some are considered advanced yogic techniques, are important to establish early in your practice. They will help you experience more yoga in your yoga:
- Vinyasa—movement and breathing synchronization. Moving our body in synchronization with our breath builds heat in the body while it helps calm the mind. Vinyasa keeps our practice smooth and flowing. More info at https://www.befityoga.com/2011/08/february-2006-vinyasa/
- Loud breathing. We use a specific loud breath during the practice. This type of breath helps us to utilize our diaphragm to breathe proper, steady, and deep. This relaxes the nervous system and energizes the body. More info at https://www.befityoga.com/2011/08/october-2007-breathing/
- Bandhas or pelvic floor and abdominal stabilization. Bandha helps move energy in our body, support the spine, increase our mindfulness, and control our prana (energy). Mula bandha is akin to a kegel, a lifting of the pelvic floor muscles. Uddiyana bandha is pulling the lower abdomen inward and upward, while the upper abdomen remains soft to accommodate a full breath. These bandhas only require a fraction of your effort, creating stillness in the lower abdomen. Bandhas support good breathing and help us move effortlessly by giving us a feeling of lightness. For most people bandhas take years of practice to begin to understand. More info at https://www.befityoga.com/2011/08/july-2011-bandhas/
- Drishti or gaze point. The eyes are trained to gaze softly at a particular spot. This is a method to deal with the tendencies of the mind, to help us improve our concentration. Gazing will improve the vision by exercising the eye muscles and the optic nerve, while increasing the blood flow. It also keeps the neck properly aligned in the poses, and in some poses, strengthens the neck. It is important to keep a soft, hazy, not quite in focus gaze. Drishti is for mind control. More info at https://www.befityoga.com/2011/08/august-2011-drishti/