With much hype right now about Ashtanga Yoga-some well-deserved- it’s hard for some aspiring yogis not to jump in. It’s fluid and fast-paced that someone who wants a workout session plus meditation would really love Ashtanga’s idea. But before you nose-dive on this active class, here are some Ashtanga Yoga information you should know first.
1. Ashtanga is progressive and systematic
Aside from having asana sequences, Ashtanga is also a system that consists of breathing techniques, focal points, and use of internal muscles. Postures should be taught or practiced one at a time and only proceed to the next once a student attains mastery. Led classes would usually have a teacher demonstrating each asana and letting the students do the same together.
With this, you won’t be given personalized instructions or assistance. But a good teacher is always someone who breaks down parts of the posture and only proceed when everybody is catching up.
However, this can be hard for a complete newbie. I suggest that you attend a Mysore class first to have the dedicated attention of teachers.
2. Ashtanga will have strangers touching you
Your teacher helping you with physical adjustments is quite normal in the practice of Ashtanga. This is more evident in Mysore classes since teachers or assistants will help you align your body to achieve a certain asana. Anyway, yoga teachers are professional about this and would only do so if you permit.
If you don’t like the touchy idea, you can request the teacher to minimize it or not assist you at all if you’re comfortable self-practicing. Just politely ask your teacher about this and I assure you they won’t get offended about this Ashtanga Yoga information.
Nevertheless, you should understand that hands-on adjustments are necessary if you’re a newbie who can barely accomplish an asana. For this, you can always look for a teacher you’re most comfortable with.
3. Ashtanga is more of a morning thing
Typically, Ashtanga is practiced during the morning and teachers encourage that you do so as well. So if you’re not the early bird type, you’ll need to make adjustments to your sleeping habits. If you think your yoga skills are too young for big led classes, I suggest that you join a beginners’ Mysore classes for five to ten weeks to learn the basics.
Mysore is also advisable so you get to adjust your body to the early routine. Many Mysore classes give this option as well as late evening practice if you really can’t commit during the morning. Here in the U.S., classes are usually scheduled from 6 am to 10 am where you can you come and go on the time you wish.
4. Ashtanga has 3-6 asana sequences
If you still don’t know the extent of asanas that may occur in Ashtanga yoga, I’m telling you right now that it’s mind-blowing. Advanced routines will require a lot of body twisting that trying it on your first weeks is like inviting injury to hit you.
Another important Ashtanga Yoga information is that having a teacher is important because he’ll give you postures suited to your body. Once you master those asanas, only then that the yoga teacher will give you more, probably more advanced.
It’s also advisable that you practice this yoga six times a week to maintain your progress. But if you’re starting out, you can do three times a week then slowly add more days.
5. Ashtanga has opening and closing mantras
On your first day, don’t be puzzled when you saw your teacher humming something before starting the class. Ashtanga has mantras usually recited during and after doing the routine. It’s written in Sanskrit but the meaning behind it is really lovely. Here are some lines:
nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ”
“May the well-being of all people be protected
By the powerful and mighty leaders be with law and justice.”
If you haven’t tried chanting it before, I suggest that you bring a script with you. But after a few days, try to learn it by heart so you can also start doing the prayer on your routine.
6. Ashtanga is a very physically challenging yoga
This is the most popular Ashtanga Yoga information and it entails the negative side about injuries. This scenario can be prevented if you follow your teacher’s asana routine and not skip the ladder of Ashtanga progression.
Some Ashtangis encountered injuries during a class when their teachers pushed them too hard. Their hamstrings snap and cause them months of recovery. So I suggest that you find a teacher who’ll assess your body structure and capabilities first.
Nevertheless, Ashtanga is a vigorous activity that sprain and muscle pain could be normal on the first days. But if the pain keeps recurring after weeks, you should ask your teacher and doctor about it.
7. Ashtanga is thought in Sanskrit
Have you been in a yoga class where someone burst into an indecipherable chant? This will be the same when you join an Ashtanga class. Sanskrit is considered as the language of yoga so it’s unlikely that your teacher will demonstrate poses using its English names. No subtitles here unless you got a chart.
Anyway, doing regular Ashtanga Yoga will familiarize you with the Sanskrit names of asanas and soon you’ll be slaying the chant like a pro.
8. You’ll sweat a lot and you’ll get sore
Some Ashtanga classes are held in a warm room and once you finished your day’s routine, you already had a downpour of sweat on your shirt and mat. Remember to drink a lot of water before starting the class and to bring your own mat. Just imagine how much sweat those mats you borrow in the studio absorbed from other people.
After a day’s routine, it will feel great, but after a while, you’ll also feel sore. Since the Ashtanga room is warm, you can’t feel this right away. Just be prepared waking up the next day with your body sore from asanas. This can be normal and can last for days.
Knowing a bit of Ashtanga Yoga information before you embark on your first class is necessary. This will save you from injury and shock once you started practicing the postures. Little by little, you’re going to be a full-fledged Ashtangi. Are you switching your yoga class too? Let us know your thoughts!