In the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, breath is united with movement and attention to create a meditative and purifying style of yoga.
When practiced for a long and continuous duration, physical and mental afflictions dissolve, vibrant health and Self-awareness arise. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the source of most all vinyasa, power and flow style yogas that are popular in the West today.
Mysore-Style Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional method of practice in which students practice at their individual pace while being supervised and adjusted by the teacher. New postures are taught sequentially to the student as individual strength, proficiency, commitment and humility evolve.
Led Class formats are also common, in which the teacher will lead a group of students through the traditional sequence of postures. In this format, students are moving and breathing in unison.
The Foundation of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is Surya Namascar, or Sun Salutation.
Here, breath, movement and attention are united to create a rhythmic and meditative sequesnce of Vinyasas or breath – movements. Surya Namascar A has 9 vinyasas or breath movements. Surya Namascar B has 17. The Downward Dog position at the end of Surya Namascar A (vinyasa # 7) is to be held for 5 breaths. At the end of Surya Namascar B, (vinyasa # 14), the Downward Dog is also to be held for 5 breaths.
Beginners are to practice 5 Surya Namascar As and 5 Surya Namascar Bs before performing the Standing Poses. Progress, Greater Happiness and Health comes form consistent daily practice rather than an aggressive ‘no pain no gain’ attitude.