Ashtanga Yoga: 6 Reasons to try it
If you’ve been curious about Ashtanga yoga and have been wanting to give it a try, here are 6 reasons why it might be right for you.
1. Stress Reduction
In today’s fast-paced world, where stress, anxiety, and sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, prioritizing our mental and physical well-being is paramount..
As you gracefully move through a sequence of postures, flowing in sync with your breath, something truly magical happens. Your body effortlessly slips into a state of deep relaxation, while your mind becomes serenely calm. It’s like finding a tranquil oasis in the midst of life’s chaos.
What’s truly fascinating is that this focused calmness not only soothes your mind but also brings balance to your body’s internal systems. Scientific research has shown that Ashtanga yoga effectively reduces the release of stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol (1). This hormonal balance fosters harmony in both your body and mind, leaving you feeling calm, peaceful, and at ease
2. Physical Fitness
Ashtanga yoga consists of a set number of postures that are performed in a specific order. The postures are linked together with vinyasas and are held for 5-10 breaths. The Ashtanga practice is divided into 4 traditional series of postures, each series building upon the previous. Not only will it help you build muscle, but it will also help you increase your balance, flexibility, and coordination.
Prepare to work up a sweat: An hour-long session of Ashtanga yoga typically burns between 400 to 550 calories.
Yoga is all about connecting with your inner self on a deeper level, and one effective way to achieve this is through the practice of conscious breath regulation. Using the breath as a tool, you can relax and delve deeper into states of meditation.
Ujjayi breath, commonly employed during Ashtanga yoga classes, involves gently contracting the throat, creating a distinctive “sound-breath.” This audible breath aids in staying present and focused throughout your practice.
4. Focus and mindfulness
Drishti, or focused gaze, is another essential element of the Ashtanga yoga practice. By directing your attention to a single point, you can clear your mind and fully immerse yourself in the present moment.
Not all styles of yoga focus on breath, movement, and drishti (or gaze) the way Ashtanga yoga does. These three magic ingredients combined brings mental focus and a connection with the body through which the practice becomes centered.
5. A structured practice
The beauty of Ashtanga yoga lies in its structured approach, where the same sequence of postures is practiced consistently. However, as you progress through the sequence, your breath and body merge into a new and unique rhythm, creating an ever-evolving and fresh experience.
Over time, you will become familiar with and embrace the sequence. It’ll become second nature to you. So, no matter where you are, all you gotta do is roll out your mat, and you’re good to go! You won’t need to rely on YouTube videos or external guidance anymore. Your practice becomes a part of you, always there, ready to flow with you wherever you wander.
6. Holistic Approach
At its core, Ashtanga Yoga embodies a philosophy consisting of eight limbs, or aspects of practice( Asht- = 8, -anga = limb), that guide us toward living with integrity and harmony within ourselves and the world. The first two limbs, yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances), serve as ethical guidelines, influencing personal behavior and interactions with the world. The final three limbs, dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (bliss), delve deeper into mental focus, introspection, and spiritual realization.
♦ Recommended Books:
The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali – Sri Swami Satchidananda
Breath: The New Science of a lost Art – James Nestor
These are just a few of the reasons why Ashtang yoga is worth a try. If you’re looking to get the most out of your yoga practice, then this may be a great form for you.