Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is often thought of as a practice only for advanced practitioners. Well, that’s just not the case! When taught traditionally, in a Mysore style class, this practice is available to anyone and everyone. I know, call me crazy, but it’s true and I’m going to tell you why. In my opinion, here are three of the many reasons why Ashtanga Vinyasa is for beginners: it is taught incrementally, the practice is tailored to the individual, and by its very nature measuring your progress is easy.
Firstly, Ashtanga Vinyasa is taught incrementally. A Mysore style class means a self led practice and the teacher’s role is to empower the student with this sequence. By teaching a little at a time students are less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to remember what they’ve been taught. Beginners are often asked to repeat the sequence to their stopping point so as to practice the physical asana and more importantly learn the sequence.
Ashtanga Vinyasa is a very physically demanding practice and this is another reason it’s taught incrementally. A full Primary Series takes 75 - 90 minutes and is hard work! However, when you start with an abbreviated practice, working up to a full practice establishes a solid foundation. Then, before you know it, you are doing a full practice and feeling invigorated for the day.
Next, an Ashtanga Vinyasa practice is tailored to the individual. It may be a set series of poses but no two people practice the same way. When new to this practice, students are essentially given a private or small group lesson. The teacher works closely with these students, providing individualized instruction based on the student’s ability. In this setting students are afforded the opportunity to learn more about particular asanas and ways in which they can be modified and made more accessible.
Lastly, because Ashtanga Vinyasa is a set sequence, it is much easier to measure your progress. When doing the same poses day in and day out you can quickly determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. One of the most rewarding feelings is finding peace and comfort in a particular asana, where previously it had caused stress and anxiety.
As with all types of yoga, the hardest part of an Ashtanga practice is showing up. My teacher likes to say that getting to the shala and onto your mat is the toughest asana of all. Therefore, just showing up is a huge win! There is also a saying that the founder of Ashtanga was fond of saying, “Practice and all is coming.” So, all of you please come and practice!
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.