Ashtanga Poses For Beginners



So you’d like to know more about Ashtanga yoga! And maybe try some of the poses out for yourself. You’ve come to the right place.


In this post, I’ll walk you through what ashtanga yoga actually is, and give you some simple poses to try if you’d like to give it a go!


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What is Ashtanga Yoga?


Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, however was popularised in Western Culture in the 1970s. 


It relies on a rigorous sequence of poses, which you’re encouraged to link to your breathing. Ashtanga yoga always incorporates the same yoga poses in the same sequence. 


Ashtanga yoga focuses on creating heat within the body and therefore purifying the body from the inside out. 


If you’ve never tried any form of yoga before, then you might want to try easing yourself in with another form of yoga before getting straight into ashtanga. It is quite physically demanding, and you may feel as though you’ve had a good workout afterwards. 


Is Ashtanga Yoga for you? 


In other yoga classes, typically the content of the class will vary from class to class. 


However, in ashtanga, the content is identical from day to day, class to class. If you’re someone who enjoys structure, and likes to know what will happen when you get there, then ashtanga might be for you. 


If you’re also no stranger to yoga, and know the basic poses, this may give you an advantage when you try ashtanga yoga for the first time. 


Ashtanga yoga might not be for you if you don’t want to leave your yoga class feeling as though you’ve had a proper workout. You may come out feeling quite sweaty and out of breath. 


Some people prefer to use their yoga practice to feel restored and relaxed. If this is what you’re wanting from your practice then ashtanga might not be for you. 


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Poses to try


Triangle pose


Triangle pose, when done right, is quite a challenging pose. 


A good way to first get into triangle pose is from Warrior 2. From warrior 2:


1. Begin to straighten your front leg and look forward in front of you.


2. With your arms still held out to either side, gently twist your torso and slide your front arm down your shin so your body is twisted. 


3. As you do this, your other arm will be reaching into the air. Try to twist your head up to look at your hand in the air.


4. Try to stack your shoulders and maintain stability. Try to imagine your are squashed between two panes of glass. 


If you are struggling to maintain this posture, you may find it easier to use a block to lean on with your arm that is leaning on your shin. This can make it easier to maintain some stability in the pose until your build up your strength and flexibility.


Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose


This is a great stretch for the lower back and the hamstrings. 


1. Make sure your legs wider than shoulder width apart. 


2. Reach your arms up above your head as you inhale. As you exhale, fold forward and either place your hands on the floor or on your shins, depending on how far you can get. 


3. Try to straighten your legs if you can. Breathe into the stretch and feel it in your lower back as well as your hamstrings. 


Bound Angle Pose


This pose is great for stretching the lower back and hamstrings as well.


1, Sit on the floor with your legs out straight. 


2. Flex your feet and reach your arms above your head as you inhale.


3. As you exhale, fold forward from the hips and reach as far forward as possible.


4. Stay here to feel the stretch for at least 30 seconds. 


Remember the goal in this pose is not necessarily to touch your toes – just get to where feels comfortable, but still challenging. This will look different for everyone depending on their flexibility in their hips. For you, it may mean holding onto your shins, for others they may be able to get their head quite close to their knees. 


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What else could you try?


Ashtanga yoga is just one form of yoga you could try out. There are so many different forms and styles. This means that whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, you’ll be able to find a yoga practice that meets your needs.


Ashtanga yoga may feel a little too structured and intense for you. You might be looking for something a little more gentle and restorative. In that case, some other yoga styles may be better suited to you.


One example is vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa incorporates poses whilst linking them to breathing, just like ashtanga. However, in vinyasa yoga there is less of a structure and the classes typically won’t be identical day to day. 


If you’re after something a little less fast paced, then you may feel more inclined to try yin yoga. Yin yoga is a slower paced type of yoga, and typically incorporates staying in certain poses for a few minutes each time. Again, you can expect each yin yoga class to vary from class to class. 


On the other hand, ashtanga yoga may not be fast paced enough for you! If this resonates for you, then you could give power yoga a go. Find out more about power yoga here.


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So will you give it a go? 


Ashtanga yoga may be for you, or it may not be. Whichever it is, there’s always something more to try with yoga. There’s always more poses, more challenges and more breathing techniques to become acquainted with. 


Personally, I have never tried an ashtanga yoga class, so if you have ever been to one then I’d love to hear what your experience was like. 


If you’d also like to try some of the poses I’ve mentioned in this post, I’d love to hear how you found them. 


All the best



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