Ashtanga Yoga is famous for being a challenging style of yoga, mentally and physically.
It is considered an advanced practice, not suitable for beginner yogis. That said, it comes with an array of benefits, and understandably, many novice practitioners don’t want to miss out!
The good news is that it is possible to adapt the practice to help beginners build their strength in preparation for the “full” Ashtanga practice.
Follow the six tips below to safely practice Ashtanga yoga for beginners and discover your inner ashtangi!
Ashtanga Yoga is renowned for being physically demanding. Whether through yoga or another form of exercise, you can help yourself by increasing your fitness level in preparation for Ashtanga.
It is especially important to work on:
- upper body strength
- wrist mobility.
The rest can be developed during practice.
Try asanas in isolation
Part of the reason Ashtanga is so taxing physically is that the Primary Series is quite long. Trying to perform the Finishing sequence when your body is tired after the previous poses can be difficult and unsafe when you’re not used to Ashtanga practice.
Try the poses beforehand so that you are familiar with their shape and your body’s limitations.
Everybody is different, and every body is different.
Some poses will require modification, no matter how strong or flexible you are. If you notice that certain poses cause discomfort or pain, figure out how to modify them with variations or props. If you practice in a group class, your yoga teacher may be able to advise you.
Make yourself a cheat-sheet
Ashtanga practice starts and ends with a Sanskrit chant. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have it memorized. At least, not when you first start. It’s a good idea to have the chants printed out so you can keep up with the rest of the class.
You could also include a list of poses to help you remember the sequence. In fact, many Ashtanga teachers have some copies of the chants and the sequence available for new students.
Slow and steady wins the race
It is important that you pace yourself. You’re not going to gain anything from rushing your sequence.
In fact, you may put yourself at risk of an injury if you don’t focus on your movements.
The Vinyasa sequence plays an important part in Ashtanga Yoga. It is inserted between poses to rejuvenate and “reset” the body.
However, repeating Vinyasa over and over can be very tiring and hard on your wrists.
While you can still keep a few repetitions of Vinyasa, choose wisely when you may want to perform them.