Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa? 5 Points To Understand For A Deeper Yoga Practice

Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa? Many yogis often interchange these two. There are some similarities to it but it’s important to establish the differences for you to have a deeper understanding and practice of yoga.

If you’re not yet decided about which to choose between the two, read the following points and decide for yourself.

The Ashtanga yoga is actually a form of Vinyasa

To settle the argument, Ashtanga is actually under the umbrella of Vinyasa yoga. Directly translated as “to place in a special way”, Vinyasa is the core of Ashtanga. It practices the same idea of breathing and movement alignment. These two practices put breath as the center of the practice.

Since Ashtanga can be referred to as a “sect” of Vinyasa, it will hold customized routines as per K. Pattabhi Jois’ revisions. Right now, these two are separately identified to be part of the few but biggest yoga practices in the world. Still, there are more differences that set these two apart.

The two have different posture sequences

No two Vinyasa classes are the same. Vinyasa instructors have the freedom to arrange posture sequences as well as breathing exercises. This is the opposite of the Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga follows a certain progression of sequences, more like a ladderized routine.

The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute should certify Ashtanga instructors first before holding a class. Meanwhile, Vinyasas are more of a self-made guru. Another Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa difference is that instructors in the latter aren’t expected to stick to the traditional way of teaching yoga.

If Ashtanga has asana sequences, Vinyasa features a peak pose that’s physically challenging. Aside from that, the instructors will arrange the class’ routines.

Ashtanga yoga vs. vinyasa

They share some similar postures

Though they don’t share the same sequences of postures, both Ashtanga and Vinyasa uses the three-point transitioned poses. Some of it is the Upward-Facing Dog, Downward-Facing Dog, and Chaturanga. There might be differences in executing the poses, but it all resembles the same asanas.

Posture modification might be evident to Vinyasa to cater the skills of the student. However, this isn’t the case with Ashtanga as students have to achieve a certain level of flexibility to nail postures as is.

Another difference is that Ashtanga classes can be led or in Mysore type. Vinyasa usually doesn’t practice one-on-one adjustments between the student and the teacher. The yoga instructor will address the Vinyasa class as a whole.

Vinyasa uses props while Ashtanga doesn’t

Ashtanga classes are usually quiet aside from the calm chanting of the mantras. But in Vinyasas, it’s normal to accompany the class with music and props. Since Vinyasa values the alignment of the body and breath, they practice movements in sync with the music. This makes it a bit of a dance at some point.

Ashtanga yoga vs. vinyasa

They have similar lineages

These two practices trace back to the discipline of Krishnamacharya yoga. But that’s the only point where these yoga practices meet. After K.Pattabhi Jois take on Ashtanga, Srivatsa Ramaswami started the Vinyasa.

After it was developed, Vinyasa turned out to be a more laidback and slower routine than Ashtanga. Ashtanga is strict in nature and everything is calculated, from breath to movement. No asana relies on chance or gut feel. A certain momentum should be followed, otherwise, it would not serve the principle’s teachings.

Vinyasa also integrates more aspects of yoga like pranayama and pratyahara.

Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa: What’s the best pick?

There’s no actual “best” pick as it all depends on your preference. Each yoga practice has differing principles that suit from person to person. If you love discipline and physical challenge, I suggest that you choose Ashtanga. But if you prefer a more relaxed and loose nature, Vinyasa will be your pick.

Deciding which one to choose isn’t just about how easy or hard it is to do. You should also consider the results you want to achieve in practicing yoga. Is it for flexibility? Workout? Mental wellness?

Both of these provide great benefits but achieving it will depend on how you’ll perceive different routines or asanas.

Now that you already settled the query about Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa, it’s time to choose your practice. Since this should be a commitment, choose the one you’re comfortable the most and one that will give you the most benefits. What are your yogi thoughts? Share it with us in the comment section!

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Ashtanga yoga vs. Vinyasa? 5 Points To Understand For A Deeper Yoga Practice

by ashtangayoga time to read: 3 min
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