Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga consists of six prescribed series rediscovered by Sri K Pattabhi Jois and his teacher Sri T Krishnamacharya. Each series has set sequence of postures linked with a specific rhythmic breath defined as vinyasa’s (transitions).
Each Ashtanga series is designed sequentially to build upon the foundations laid in the previous one. This is the literal meaning of the word “vinyasa” – correct placement – the order or sequencing of postures. Traditionally the student must execute a posture correctly (alignment and breath) before moving on to the next. Until the student is able to perform the posture correctly, the body is not properly prepared to attempt the next one.
All six series begin with sun-salutations and standing postures and end with back-bends and finishing poses. The postures in between define each series.
Primary (First) Series – Yoga Chikitsa
Primary Series is designed to prepare the body and is the foundation of Ashtanga Vinyasa. Yoga Chikitsa means yoga therapy. The purpose of Primary Series is to begin the process of building strength and flexibility to ‘cleanse’ the body physically. It introduces the concept of breath, internal locks (bandhas), focus of the eyes (drishti) and initiates the act of concentrating the mind. Perfecting Primary Series takes time, effort and energy. The results are a strong, lean, muscular body with a calm, focused mind.
Intermediate (Second) Series – Nadi Shodana
Intermediate works on cleansing the nervous system. Nadi Shodana literally means nerve cleansing. The body must be prepared with a strong Primary Series before it is ready to withstand the intensity of “2nd Series”. Its focus is on backbending, hip opening, arm-balancing and a series of challenging headstands.
Advanced A, B, C & D (Third, Fourth, Fifth & Sixth) – Sthira Bhaga
The Advanced Series of Ashtanga focuses on strength and grace (Sthira Bhaga). This is achieved through more advanced arm-balances, hip-openers and backbends and requires practical and consistent application of bandhas and drishti.
At CycleOM we offer this dynamic traditional method of yoga to all levels:
- Ashtanga 101 – learn the basics and build a foundation.
- Ashtanga All Levels – teaches the Primary Series step by step.
- Ashtanga Advanced – for experienced practitioners.
- Mysore – the traditional way as taught in Mysore, India. What’s Mysore?
When asked about the practice, Sri K Pattabhi Jois explained that Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is:
“99% practice, 1% theory”.