A Step-by-Step Approach to Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

Ashtanga yoga is widely acknowledged for its assortment of six different series of yoga postures and entails a system of breath-synchronized yoga practices. And the first series, popularly recognized as the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series, has the reputation for being practised the most frequently.

Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga’s Primary Series

With the Ashtanga yoga system’s fixed approach, it is practised like carrying out each motion makes it simple for practitioners to follow, which is one of its benefits. Just as any other yoga practice, it consists of a series of movements that a practitioner does one after another until they reach the opening and closing mantras. The majority of the Ashtanga practice can also be tweaked or modified.

Despite the fact that yoga might be seen as a spiritual activity, Ashtanga yoga has physical health advantages. Six series, Primary, Intermediate, and four Advanced Series, each with a predetermined sequence of poses, make up Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

The first Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation, for every one of the six Ashtanga series, is succeeded by the standing sequence, which comprises five Surya Namaskaras in the A version and five Surya Namaskaras in the B variation. All the series conclude with an identical concluding sequence. The only part of the practice that varies per series and contains a varied set of yoga poses is the middle section. The poses are also often practised in Ashtanga classes in a set order and presented in the Mysore style, with the yoga instructor demonstrating an additional pose when the practitioner is prepared.

What Are the Different Levels of Ashtanga?

In general, Ashtanga yoga is divided into six levels or series, and each level must be mastered before moving on to the next. When you’ve already mastered the basics in the Primary series, you can go to the Secondary series, the Advanced series, which has four levels, A, B, C, and D.

The Mysore Yoga

Asanas can be introduced in a Mysore-style class individually at any session, which is one advantage of the Ashtanga yoga poses to practice. As Mysore class instructors notice that students have mastered prior postures, they begin to teach additional poses. After getting familiar with the stances, people can move forward at their own pace. Joining a lead class, where a trainer guides students through the postures, is another way to practice Ashtanga yoga.

To explore the poses independently, practitioners are always free to do so. It is advised to study and practice just several stances at a time, while also memorizing the poses’ order if utilizing the approach.

Understanding The Primary Series

Yoga chikitsa, generally recognized as the primary series, has become a healing practice that seeks to restore the human body to the point where the yogi can continue focusing in a deeper way by engaging in pranayama, meditation, or other series that involve dealing with the body at greater depths.

The primary series focuses on the body’s major organs, including the gastrointestinal system, liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. Also, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve systems are also balanced by it. The Ujjayi pranayama breathing, widely referred to as the victorious breath or deep breathing with sound, has been the breathing approach that is traditionally employed in this practice.

When we conquer the mental barriers to our practice, we develop better focus, determination, mind-body awareness, and conviction through consistent practice. The Primary series’ therapeutic effects on clearing blockages in the body’s energy channels operate on a subtle level. By removing these impediments, the Prana can flow more completely, enabling the body and mind to function more efficiently.

The Primary Series: Is It for Complete Beginners?

In order for new students to become comfortable with the ashtanga yoga practice, the series of poses are broken down into shorter versions and taught to them. Prior to beginning their practice of Ashtanga Yoga, beginners should educate themselves about the asanas and the idea of yoga, as well as where it originated: in ancient Hinduism and Indian culture. An Opening Mantra, Surya Namaskara A, B, Sun Salutations, and the Standing Sequence are performed at the start of every one of the six series. Just the middle segment has a varied set of yoga poses and a different concentration based on the series, Primary, Intermediate, and Advanced Sequences, from which the beginner students enter and incorporate the Finishing Sequence.

How Does the Primary Series Influence Our Anatomy?

The primary series, a form of restorative practice for meditation and pranayama that gets the body eventually ready for something like the advanced series, has already been emphasized. Fundamentally, the benefits of Ashtanga yoga focus on the digestive system, which also includes the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. However, there are many more significant impacts that an intense stretch of the Primary series addresses, in addition to bringing both nerve systems into equilibrium.

Opening the Abdominal and Pelvic Tissues

The primary series, which essentially centres on yoga therapy, is said to have a multitude of physiological advantages according to Yoga Mala and Ashtanga Yoga. The kidneys, liver, gut, uterus, and other organs are among the advantages associated with the primary series. Take note of the fact that these advantages centre on organs that lie within and around the pelvic muscles and abdomen.

Looking Into the Ayurvedic Perspective

According to the Ayurveda perspective, consuming improper foods for the type of body is fundamentally the root cause of sickness. For this reason, manipulating and purifying the lower abdomen is a particularly crucial idea for general wellness. This might be one of the causes for the emphasis on compressing and adjusting the abdominal tract, but it doesn’t mean that food consumption should be ignored.

The primary series also aims to alter the region of the abdomen and its surroundings. Also, a structure to maintain a healthy spine is set in place by altering the pelvic area’s tension physiologically. Internal organs and systems like the respiratory, immunological, and digestive systems are all aided by the contraction and twisting of the pelvis.

Providing Spinal Support

Since your pelvis influences your spine, there are additional benefits to strengthening pelvic mobility in the primary series. Also, you can observe the spine rounding and collapse by attempting to sit on the lotus with tight hips. The spinal cord, which is another important component of our nervous system and is located in the spine, has been well-known.  Our own practice also has a greater impact on our nervous system when we look beyond the advantages of simply improving our physical strength and flexibility. But keep a mind that the Ashtanga primary series is not solely physical. Even when we do forward bending, the body is actually just the conduit through which we enter the other facets of yoga.

Opening the Hips

It is undoubtedly necessary to balance the tension among the muscles surrounding the pelvis and hip joints across all directions if the pelvis is to be allowed to move freely. And that appears to be opening the hips, which is a term we frequently use in yoga. Several more opportunities to open the hip-supporting muscles from a variety of angles are provided by the primary series. Also, we are expanding the hips through seated forward bend, big toe pose, or upward plank pose in a variety of postures, standing triangle poses, half bound lotus variations, and more.

Working the Hamstring Muscles

While beginning a yoga practice, practitioners frequently approach tightened hip and hamstring muscles from sitting and other common movements. In that situation, practitioners frequently discover that they must first lengthen their hamstrings until they begin to feel a stretch around their hip joints. Try incorporating that goal into your practice while thinking about the two-sided seated poses. It will start to have an impact on the leg that has changed shape when you cease overblowing the forward bending portion. The opposite leg form is typically intended to introduce movement into the hip joint in different ways.

Developing a Productive Yoga Practice

Although such a practice could seem overwhelming at first, it is essential that you take your own time, begin slowly, maintain self discipline, and cultivate inner peace. When practising in a group in the top Ashtanga class in Singapore, the instructor can offer you individualized assistance. To make the poses more suitable for your body and skill level, the instructor can assist you. Also, in this practice, you must master the earlier position in order to move on to the next, so keep in mind that the series is progressive, and you can explore it if you click here for more. The most essential thing to remember is to let the process take you where it may be, to not evaluate your experience to that of others, and to never abandon yourself.

About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.