Physically demanding and often practiced by those who have experienced other styles, Ashtanga yoga has a series of demanding postures which students work through, moving from one pose to the next.
These sequences build stamina, increase flexibility and strengthen the whole body. Heat is generated within the body as the student moves through the range and this heat leads to cleansing which in turn increases circulation and sweating.
Ashtanga is often referred to as Power Yoga and is not recommended for beginners due to the demands of the poses. For those who are physically strong and flexible or who have experience within yoga and who may be looking for a fresh challenge, then it is advisable to seek professional instruction.
Ashtanga yoga needs a great deal of focus and concentration as the students move through the postures, so it is imperative that a teacher is on hand to guide the student into the correct position and so that bad habits are not formed in the early stages. It is very easy for students to not fully understand the exact position they are supposed to be in, and a teacher will be able to spot any minor mistakes which could have a negative impact on the students progression.
To the onlooker, Ashtanga yoga can seem a beautiful carefully selected sequence of extreme and difficult postures, strength and flexibility is needed throughout the session. Students should focus on the breathing throughout as this will help prepare the body for the different moves. For every movement, one breath is taken.
As in any yoga class it is important that the mind is kept controlled and focused, as concentration will help the student to progress within each movement and achieve maximum benefits. In Ashtanga yoga, the student has to master every step before proceeding to the next and the theory behind this diligent practice is that the students mind should be purified through careful progression through the eight essential steps.
As this discipline is so very powerful, it would be attractive to those who seek an absolute challenge, enjoy intense physicality and who have much energy and inquiring minds.
Like all styles, regular practice is best and early morning practice sessions are recommended. Sessions can be tailored to suit busy modern lifestyles however, and the most important aspect is that regular practice ensues. Students reap the rewards of dedicated practice sessions quite quickly and within a very short space of time, those around will begin to notice some changes to the students demeanor and physique.
Renewed confidence and energy levels are quite common as is an increased ability to handle stress. Quite often, students appear radiant, poised and calm. Focus for work projects increases as does concentration levels. Providing the student is careful and pays attention to the teacher during the class, the benefits of Ashtanga yoga are far-reaching.