Ashtanga Vinyasa classes are distinctive in that they are a series of postures that are linked by breath, and involve using body locks (bandhas) and drishti (structured eye focus)
There are several sets of sequences, and here at Yoga Dharma we use the first three. The first sequence, or The Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa, which itself means yoga therapy) is designed to heal the body before going on to series two and three.
Most of our Ashtanga classes will use series one, which can be download here. The series can be adapted to meet most student’s individual needs, provided your teacher is capable. All our teachers undergo our rigorous training programme, and only the best graduates will be offered a teaching position.
A typical class will start with sun salutations and go through a series of standing postures. Then the seated part of the series begins (primary series) This part is unique in that it links the postures by something called vinyasa. After the first set of forward bends, the student will from seated, place the hands on the floor alongside the hips. On an inhale, lift the body off the floor, and then take the legs back into press up. From a press, up, lifting the chest into a backbend, then push the hips back to down dog. To get back to a seated position, the legs are jumped between the hands to seated. This is advanced stuff, but don’t worry, there are lots of easier ways to do this, that is suitable for most students.
The second series, or Nadi Shodan (nerve cleansing) works on opening and liberating the subtle bodies energy channels (nadis) The first part of the second series is a sequence of back bending. This is where the subtle bodies main energy channels sit. Back bending will keep the body youthful and vigorous.
The third series, also called the advanced A series, is a sequence of postures that work with gravity. The third series is one of four sequences that comprise the advanced series, which is known as Sthira Bhaga, or “divine stability.” The third series will see a manifestation of our efforts. We have developed a light and graceful practise, with the ability to balance on our hands with ease. We are able to hold and transfer from one arm balance to the next. This is where we need to remind ourselves why we practise. It’s very easy for the ego to attach itself to the powers you have created. We should never become attached to the fruits of our practise.