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Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners | Poses, Mantra, Tips & More

Ashtanga Yoga For Beginners
A complete guide for beginners in Ashtanga yoga, its Philosophy, benefits, poses, pranayam, principle, mantra, and tips. Everything you want to know in an easy to understand words.

Table of Contents

Astanga yoga has been gaining popularity over recent years. 

You must have probably heard your friend or colleague raving about it and rightly so. The hoard of benefits that it provides totally makes it praiseworthy.

 Without further ado let us explore the world of Astanga yoga.

Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga

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Astanga Yoga dates back to 200 years BC and was composed by the great sage Patanjali. 

Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word. “Astha” means eight and “Anga” means limbs. 

In his book Patanjali yoga sutra, sage Patanjali has described the Eightfold path towards achieving a State of Yoga also called SAMADHI.

Now your intention might not be to achieve samadhi, but you can still practice the poses which are specifically aimed at strengthening the core.

Astanga yoga basically links various yoga poses without any breaks in between. In the form of a continuous sequence. 

This practice requires a lot of strength, flexibility, and stamina. That is why it is perceived as one of the most intense and challenging forms of workout.

Make it a part of your workout regime and raise the bar of your fitness quotient. Also, it gives you amazing results on your mental health.

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Benefits of practicing Ashtanga Yoga

Astanga yoga provides a complete package for the well-being of your mind, body, and soul.

  • Strengthen your muscles.
  • Increases flexibility and stamina.
  • Tones your body and brings you into shape.
  • Breathing deeply while doing the pose has a calming effect on the mind.
  • Since the pose are done continuously it is equivalent to doing a cardio workout and helps you to burn calories. 
  • The poses are designed to exercise all the parts of your body, so while doing this there will be no part that does not work hard. 
  • Doing these poses in sequence gradually improves your balance and coordination.
  • Focusing on taking deep breaths while doing the poses helps in releasing stress and anxiety.
  • If you are feeling sad and gloomy a session of Astanga yoga will signal your body to release endorphins. Which are also called happy hormones. 
  • Regular practice will help you achieve mental clarity.
  • Strengthens your lungs and is a boon for your respiratory system.
  • It helps to release all the suppressed emotions in a healthy manner and promotes emotional well-being.
  • An amazing way to keep you centered and grounded.

Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy

The Astanga yoga philosophy is to combine all eight limbs of yoga.

  • Yama (moral codes)
  • Niyama (self-discipline)
  • Asana (posture)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses)
  • Dharna (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (oneness with self)

The first four limbs are meant for cleansing the physical body and the last four are meant for internal cleansing.

The underlying principle for these strenuous physical workouts is to strengthen the core and increase stamina. When these poses are combined with the right breathing techniques it brings about mental clarity and fosters self-awareness.

Regular practice will help you identify your mental blocks and also bestow upon you the willpower to overcome them. 

It also aims at cleansing our emotional system of all the unwanted emotional baggage. With each session, you will feel more and more liberated and at peace with yourself.

This practice will make you physically and mentally strong in a short span of time.

Ashtanga Yoga Postures for Beginners (Asanas)

There are about 75 poses in Astanga yoga. It takes around 1 and a half to two hours to complete these 75 postures. 

These poses are divided into primary and secondary series.

In this blog, I am going to talk about the Primary series. Only after mastering the primary series can you move on to the secondary series.

The session starts with five rounds of Surya Namaskar A and B.

1. Surya namaskar A

Is the basic sun salutation. It consists of 12 poses 

Pranam Asana (Prayer pose)

Stand on your mat. Legs touching each other. Inhale deeply and raise your hands, from the sides. Exhale and join your palms at the top of your head to form a namaste. 

Hastatauttanasa (Raised Arms Pose)

Stand in prayer position. Now inhale and separate your palms and bend backward from your waist. Your biceps should lie close to your ears. Stand on your tiptoes.

Hasta Padasana (Hand-To-Foot Pose)

Exhale and bend from the waist. Keep your spine straight. Try to touch your hands to the ground and if possible catch your ankles.

Ashwa Sanchalasana (Equestrian Pose)

Inhale and bring your upper body parallel to the floor. Beng your right knee and bring it closer to your chest and stretch out your left leg behind you. Keep your hands beside you with palms facing down. Lookup

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Now inhale and stretch your right leg also behind you.

Ashtanga Namaskara (Knee-Chest-Chin Pose)

Touch both your knees to the ground, Exhale and bring your chin down and rest it on the floor. Keep your hips elevated. It is called Astanga namaskar because both your 8 body parts i.e., knees, hands, legs, chin, and chest touches the floor.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Inhale and lift your head and torso and align it to 90 degrees to the floor. The bottom of your waist and your legs should lay flat on the ground. Make sure to use your hands for support and don’t transfer your entire weight on them.

Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

Exhale and lift up your midsection off the floor while keeping your palms and soles touched the floor.

Ashwa Sanchalasana (Equestrian Pose)

From here you reverse the steps. Inhale and you have to do the opposite of what we did in the earlier Ashwa Sanchalasana pose. Here you have to bring your right foot forward while keeping the left foot behind. Arch your back and look up.

Hasta Padasana  (Hand-To-Foot Pose)

Exhale and bring your left foot forward. Straighten your legs and lift your hips slowly. Your hands should touch the ground.

Hastatauttanasa  (Raised Arms Pose)

Inhale and raise your hands up and bend backward.

Pranam Asana (Prayer Pose)

Exhale and stand in a relaxed manner. With this, you complete one cycle of Surya Namaskar.

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2. Surya Namaskar B

It is a variation of Surya Namaskar A. You just need to add two poses in between. After Hastatauttanasa both times, you need to do Utkatasana. After Parvatasana you have to do Virabhadrasana 1.

Utkatsana (Chair Pose)

As soon as you finish Hastatauttanasa, exhale and bend your knees. Your thighs should be almost parallel to the floor.

Your arms should be straight up and your palms should face each other.

Now enter hasta Padasana.

Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)

After Parvatasana brings your right foot forward. Bend your right leg so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Lift your arms overhead and your palms touching each other. Your left heel will remain on the mat. 

Now enter astanga asana.

Astanga Yoga Breathing

The pranayam used in Astanga yoga is called Ujjayi. It has an equal length of inhale and exhale. You could start by practicing Ujjai for 5 minutes and gradually you can increase the time.

It is done by breathing in and out through the nose.

You need to close your mouth and constrict the glottis at the back of the throat. 

Now inhale till you feel fullness in your chest. 

Allow the air to pass through the constricted throat you will be able to hear a friction sound.

Retain the air for 6 seconds and exhale, keeping the throat constricted. 

Ensure that your spine, head, and neck are straight.

Keep the facial muscles relaxed. 

Avoid jerks while inhaling and exhaling. Try to do it rhythmically as possible.

Astanga Yoga Sequencing

Astanga yoga has 6 series

  • Primary
  • Intermediate
  • And 4 advanced series

Each of these series has a set order of poses. In this blog, I have covered the primary series.

Astanga Yoga Mantra

1. Sanskrit

OM

VANDE GURUNAM CHARANARAVINDE

SANDARSHITA SVATMA SUKHAVABODHE 

NISHREYASE JANGALIKAYAMANE

SAMSARA HALAHALA MOHASHANTYAI

ABAHU PURUSHAKARAM

SHANKHACHAKRASI DHARINAM

SAHASRA SHIRASAM SHVETAM

PRANAMAMI PATANJALIM

OM

2. English Translation

OM

I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus

The awakening happens of one’s own self is revealed,

Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,

Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.

Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,

Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,

To Patanjali, I salute.

OM

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Tips For Astanga Yoga For Beginners

Initially, you may find it difficult so don’t be disappointed.

Focus on your breath while doing the poses.

Move at your own pace.

Better to practice under the supervision of an expert.

Don’t push or exert yourself unnecessarily, just go with the flow.

Conclusion

Its philosophy might seem somewhat intimidating, but if you get yourself trained under an expert and take small steps at a time, you will go a long way. With regular practice, you will be able to transform yourself completely in a short span of time. 

It’s time to grab your yoga mat and immerse yourself in the world of Astanga Yoga. Your mind, body, and soul will love you for it. TRUST ME!

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Niriksha

Niriksha has 2 years of experience in creative writing and blogging. She's been doing Meditation and Yoga for 4 years, which really helps her connect with her readers in her blogs. She is also passionate about mindfulness, Ayurveda and Spirituality.

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