A Deeper Look: Ashtanga Yoga Flow | Ashtanga Yoga Asanas

by | Holistic Health, Yoga

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Ashtanga Yoga Flow:

Do you practice yoga and want to know more about Ashtanga Yoga flow? Most likely the answer to the latter is yes, that’s why you’re here, right! However, don’t be fooled by this very controlled type of yoga practice. Ashtanga yoga is, and can be a vigorous style, increasing in difficulty as you proceed through its phases.

Yoga is a philosophy, a millenary science that throughout history has created the basis for the birth of many different styles. Practiced today all over the world, yoga can be presented to every type of person and personality. For example, from the most meditative styles to very intense and dynamic ones. In fact, yoga has went through a lot of modifications throughout history. Like many practices, it has evolved.

ashtanga yoga flow

More on Ashtanga Yoga:

One style that includes dynamic and intense movement (sequences) and tremendous self-knowledge is Ashtanga Yoga. This is a physically demanding style of yoga, having deep roots in India even today. Believed to be developed by T.Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century, Ashtanga yoga has stood the test of time. Thus, remaining and becoming a very popular style of performed yoga in the late 1900’s and 2000’s.

The basis of the practice includes a sequence of continuous asanas, that is linked through breath. Such sequences are extremely structured, having to master one pose in order to proceed to the next. At it’s core, Ashtanga yoga is a more intense from of Hatha yoga, made up of six levels.

These levels are further made up of a series of fixed postures. Meaning the sequence and asanas do not change. Oftentimes, it is compared to Vinyasa flow for the very nature of the flowing movement.

Consequently, one way in which it differs from other styles of yoga is it’s structure. Many other styles and classes include a “mixed bag” of asanas. Ashtanga yoga sequences, do not change.

Although the practice is physically demanding, at it’s root, promotes mind benefits as well. This includes mental clarity, inner peace and strength.

What does Ashtanga Yoga mean?

In Sanskrit, the word Ashtanga literally means Eight-limbs. “Ashta” referring to the number 8. “Anga” meaning limb. Thus, identifying the steps the yogi must take to achieve himself/herself. This includes making the body healthy, proceeding to better controlling of the mind.

  1. Yama – the conduct in social life or the actions that are performed towards others;
  2. Niyama – the individual conduct or actions towards yourself;
  3. Asanas – positions, postures;
  4. Pranayama – breath control;
  5. Pratyahara – the withdrawal of the senses;
  6. Dharana – deep concentration;
  7. Dhyana – meditation;
  8. Samadhi – liberation, awakening, self-awareness, the ultimate goal of yoga itself.

Benefits To The Practitioner:

Calming Effect:

Although not specific to Ashtanga, yoga in and of itself effects the autonomic nervous system. Helping to calm your system. Consequently, even leading to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure.

Related Article: Yoga for Heart Health: Vital Poses to Practice

Mind-Body Balance:

Research suggests that that yoga can be used effectively for individuals that have an increased risk of falls. These benefits include;

  • improved posture control;
  • improved flexibility of body and mind;
  • relaxation;
  • and a decrease in anxiety and stress

In addition, Ashtanga yoga therapy has shown promise in postural stability in the visually impaired.

Related Article: Stand Tall: Yoga Poses for Perfect Posture

Pain Control:

There have been various studies indicating the use of yoga for individuals suffering from chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Some of the studies when compared to physical therapy, showed yoga to be “non-inferior” for the purposes of “function and pain”.

Furthermore, studies have indicated the ability of yoga to have benefits on increasing core strength. Consequently, having effects in reducing pain and disability in CLBP sufferers.

Improving Strength & Flexibility:

Research has supported (specifically, in regards to Hatha yoga), it’s ” favorable” effectiveness on cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility.

Additional advantages encompass enhancing focus, boosting vitality, fostering mental serenity, aiding in spiritual recovery or fortification, reinforcing joints and the spine, nurturing the body’s innate alignment, alleviating nervous restlessness, and mitigating symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Ashtanga yoga practice has facilitated numerous individuals in discovering equilibrium and satisfaction across various facets of life, including physical well-being, mental clarity, and spiritual connection.

Ashtanga Yoga Flow Series:

Ashtanga Yoga is structured into six distinct series, each progressively more challenging. These series follow a specific sequence of asanas, or yoga postures.

The initial series, known as “Yoga Chikitsa” or the “Primary Series,” serves as the therapeutic foundation of Ashtanga yoga. Comprising 75 poses, this series is designed to purify and detoxify the body, promoting healing and overall well-being.

The practice of the Primary Series can span over 2 hours and includes a variety of poses such as standing, seated, inverted, and back-bend postures. These poses are thoughtfully arranged to engage and harmonize the entire body. Familiar sequences like Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara A & Surya Namaskara B) are integrated at the beginning of the Chikitsa, concluding with the well-known Corpse Pose.

Upon mastering the Primary Series, practitioners advance to the “Secondary Series,” also known as “Nadi Sodhana,” which translates to “cleansing the channels” or “cleaning the nerves.” This series is specifically designed to cleanse the “energy channels” through which prana, or life force energy, flows. As proficiency in the second series is achieved, practitioners progress to the third series, and so forth.

The ultimate and sixth series is known as “Sthira Bhaga,” which translates to “divine stability” and is often referred to as “The Advanced Series.” This series consists of numerous challenging asanas and is intended for highly dedicated practitioners who have attained a profound level of mastery in the art of Ashtanga yoga.


While we’ve briefly mentioned “the breath,” its significance becomes abundantly clear during the practice of each yoga pose. Indeed, proper breathing is an essential element that plays a pivotal role in maintaining focus and concentration, alongside “Bandha” (muscular lock) and “Drishti” (focal point).

In Ashtanga yoga, the breathing technique predominantly employed is known as Ujjayi breathing, often referred to as the “victorious breath.” However, as practitioners advance in their Ashtanga practice, they may explore various other breathing techniques to further enhance their proficiency and deepen their connection with their breath.

Final Thoughts

Nonetheless, make sure you explore Ashtanga yoga with some amount of practicality. Respect your limits, embracing what you can do, and acknowledging what you still need to achieve. Live in the moment and experience each asana at the time, noticing how your body reacts to it.









Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use them to purchase items, then we may earn a small commission. Hope you find something that you like!
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