Looking forward to becoming an Ashtangi? This yoga might look intimidating and demanding. While there’s some truth to it, it’s highly disciplined and invigorating. Queries about how to begin Ashtanga is normal for newbies transitioning to this active meditation. Advance postures are truly intricate, but with these ten ways, you can easily start your routine little by little.
1. Have a cheat sheet
It’s understandable that as a newbie in the yoga class, you’ll have a hard time remembering posture details. Since Ashtanga is strictly done in asana sequences, you should bring a cheat sheet with you on the first days. Put it beside your mat as you go on with the class.
Some Ashtanga yoga classes have teachers that don’t demonstrate poses to let the students free their minds of other things and focus on the asanas. Still, I’m sure that a cheat sheet for the first two weeks won’t bother them at all.
2. Trust a teacher
Learning this yoga with a teacher needs a lot of trust from both ends. If you haven’t found a teacher you can trust, you can ask for a trial membership on the nearest Ashtanga class near you. Make sure to attend classes when the Ashtanga teacher is present so you can get a gut feel of the person.
I don’t give much emphasis on certification requirements in choosing a yoga teacher. As long as his experience in the practice speaks for himself, then you can give it a go.
3. Do the yoga in your own pace
Don’t compare your progress with fellow students and allow yourself to practice the asanas at your own pace. You shouldn’t copy what others are doing except if you’re referencing on how to begin Ashtanga postures.
Remember that slow is good in Ashtanga practice and if you have a nice teacher, he can help you with the pacing. Just don’t force yourself too much to avoid injuries or premature transition to the next asana series. Ashtanga is done in a progressive manner where you should master a certain routine before proceeding to the next level.
4. Take Savasana longer
Savasana is a Sanskrit word for the corpse-like pose that you do at the end of an Ashtanga routine. Yogis use this to calm the mind and body while letting the asana effects settle. You might not give much attention to it, but savoring your Savasana will allow you to release more body tension and let the mind settle for extended meditation.
This is one of the most overlooked routines for newbie Ashtangis. Meditation during Savasana makes our brain balance its chemistry and improve blood flow.
5. Train your mind to let go of thoughts
The most important part of yogic living-be it Ashtanga or whatever yoga-is freeing the mind of clutter to let positive energies into the body. Like the advice of a long-time Ashtangi, “learn to cut-off your thoughts and cultivate inner silence.”
Ashtanga is meant to purify the body of toxins including negative thoughts and emotions. Once you learn how to begin Ashtanga routines, you should slowly practice shutting off your mind to focus on Ujjayi or the breathing patterns instead. That way, you’ll have easy self-introspection.
6. Read article and books about Ashtanga
There are a lot of Ashtanga books these days, but I suggest that you read those by Sri. K Pattabhi Jois like Yoga Mala. Other best choices are Guruji and The Mirror of Yoga. These publications largely help in understanding the ethics and practice of this yoga. Also, you’ll get to know Sri. K Pattabhi Jois even more. He’s the one who started this yoga revolution.
There are also available podcasts delivered by fellow Ashtangis that you can join. Anyway, don’t forget to indulge on Ashtanga memes and humor once in a while.
7. Remember that it’s a breathing yoga
Before targeting to nail the asanas, I suggest that you focus on the breathing patterns. If you need to slow down to achieve this, do so. Just remember that you should take deeper breaths and deeper thinking together. This is crucial in aligning the mind, body, and soul.
When you get the right breathing, what happens is that your glottis contracts to make inhaled air exhaled in a slow and controlled manner. It also produces a sound comparable to the ocean.
8. Get comfortable with sweating
If you’d been practicing Hatha Yoga for quite some time, transitioning to Ashtanga may overwhelm you with lots of sweating. The breathing of this yoga intends a person to sweat as a highlight on how to begin Ashtanga. So if you’re not sweating much in your yoga class, there’s something wrong with your Ujjayi.
However, you shouldn’t mistake this as the need for overexertion. Just get the right amount of physical activity and sweat to get the toxins out of your body and mind. As Ashtanga will break you a lot of sweat, you shouldn’t forget to stay hydrated.
9. Learn the chants
Meditation is a big part of the Ashtanga Yoga and to instill it in the subconscious mind, you have to pair asanas with mantras. There are variations in the mantras since there’s one dedicated to the opening of the routine and in ending it.
Once you learned the mantras by heart, you’ll have easier time reciting it and incorporating it with movements and Ujjayi.
10. Prepare a lot of patience
I guess this is what every beginner should have when starting to be an Ashtangi. The asana sequences can be really frustrating at first and it may test your dedication. Try to be patient and take one routine at a time. Besides, your yoga teacher will be there to guide you.
Remember that Ashtanga is a step-by-step process, so don’t fret if you’re lagging than others in the group.
Ways on how to begin Ashtanga are always a big help especially for yoga newbies. If you’re just starting to learn this discipline, remember to take it slowly and enjoy every asana you’re doing. Once you nail that big move, you’ll realize that it’s all worth it.
Have you been transitioning to Ashtangi? Share your experience with us!