Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, or Power Yoga, as it is also popularly known, is a system of Hatha Yoga that focuses on vinyasa. Vinyasa is a dynamic method of practicing asanas or yoga postures that is said to incorporate a flow that links the more static, traditional yoga postures together, and matches breathing with movement. Ashtanga Yoga synchronizes breathing with a series of progressive postures. Hatha Yoga is the branch of Yoga that focuses on asanas or exercises in order to achieve spiritual insight. Outside of India though, Yoga is often associated only with the exercises, and not with the set of beliefs and other spiritual practices that come with it.
Ashtanga Yoga, which means “eight-limbed yoga” in Sanskrit, is one of the more vigorous methods of practicing asanas. With its athletic jumps, push-ups, and short poses, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is very physically demanding. It is best for high-energy individuals, and has said to have been formulated specifically for children and adolescents. Because it is so rigorous, Ashtanga Vinyasa is said to be able to channel a young mind’s hyperactivity, allowing a person to calm the white noise of the mind, reduce stress, and help overly-extroverted individuals become more introverted in body and in practice.
Ashtanga Yoga is characterized by six series of specific postures, which are always done in the same order and with a particular set of breathing patterns called “ujjayii breathing.” The vinyasa method is meant to create heat in the body, allowing negative influences to be purged and a person’s being to be purified through sweating and increased circulation. The “flowing” nature of this method also helps increase a person’s muscle strength and overall flexibility. This allows a student to practice more advanced postures or asanas without risking injury.
Typically, a student of Ashtanga Yoga is taught “Mysore style,” or through “supervised self practice,” which is a method in which the student practices at their own level and pace, helped along by a guru or an instructor.
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