Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic style of yoga, developed in Mysore, India by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, based on his studies with his teacher, Krishnamacharya.
Ashtanga follows a set series of postures, and links movement to breath, so that moving into and out of each pose is as important as holding the poses themselves. There are six series in the Ashtanga style, and everyone starts with Primary Series, which we teach at Perth Yoga Studio.
Classes start with the standing sequence, moving on to primary series, and ending with the finishing sequence. All the subsequent ashtanga series start and finish in this way, with the “bit in the middle” changing as you become familiar and confident with all the primary series poses. But there is no “goal” as such – some people will move on to further series, some may stay with primary series.
Ashtanga primary series moves incrementally – each pose leads to the next one and prepares the body (and mind) for the poses to follow.
The ashtanga classes at the studio are “led” classes, where the teacher guides you into and out of each pose and gives a breath count while you hold the poses. (The other style of ashtanga class is “Mysore”, or self-practice, where you move through the sequence at your own pace, with the teacher there to give assistance and adjustment. It is named “Mysore” after the city where Pattabhi Jois lived and taught.) In a “half led primary series” class, you would work halfway through primary series up to Navasana, boat pose, and then move to finishing sequence from there. A “full led primary series” class goes on to include the rest of the primary series poses after Navasana, before moving into finishing sequence.
Ashtanga yoga is an active, energetic style, you can expect to move a lot, and work up a sweat – this is the point of the practice, to build up heat in the body. As such, you need to wear clothes you can move in easily, perhaps layers you can remove if necessary as you warm up, and bring a towel too. We practice in bare feet.