Traditional Ashtanga Yoga

Traditional Ashtanga Yoga

Often referred to as classical Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, traditional Ashtanga is a fundamental approach to a rather fast-paced type of yoga. The system was first introduced and popularized by the famous yoga teacher K. Pattabhi Jois in the late 1940s. However, traditional Ashtanga did not reach mainstream popularity until the mid-1960s.

Traditional Ashtanga also incorporates a deeply spiritual aspect of the exercises along with muscular, flexibility, and cardiovascular benefits. Especially in a traditional approach, yogic students will study the eight limbs of the Yoga Sutras, respectively:

  1. Yama: morality
  2. Samadhi: connection with meditation focus
  3. Niyama: self-study
  4. Dhyana: deep meditation
  5. Asana: yogic poses
  6. Dharana: focus and concentration
  7. Pranayama: breath control
  8. Pratyahara: withdrawal of the mind from the senses

Both Power and Vinyasa styles of yoga are derived from the concepts and poses inherent in traditional Ashtanga yoga.

Types of Movements

Breath is synchronized with movement in ashtanga yoga. Certain positions are coupled with specific breathing techniques, which help to stretch the body and create intensity in the workout. Another key feature of this type of yoga is that there are several directions for a person's gaze, which aligns the spine into certain positions.

In addition to holding the poses, special attention is also made to fluidly transitioning between them. This demands further muscle control and strength. Everything about ashtanga yoga is designed to generate heat within the body.

Mental and Physical Requirements

Ashtanga does require a good deal of focus, coordination and strength. Some of the poses are quite difficult to achieve and one needs to concentrate on maintaining correct form and breathing while moving between the poses themselves. For this reason, many instructors have created "abridged" versions of this type of yoga for beginners.

Equipment Requirements

  • Yoga Blocks
  • Yoga Straps
  • Mat
  • Yoga Blanket
  • Comfortable, Breathing Clothes

Mental and Physical Benefits


  • Improved Memory
  • Increased Concentration
  • Improved Depth Perception
  • Improved Self-Image
  • Decreased Anxiety and Depression


  • Decreased Pulse Rate
  • Improved Posture
  • Increased Strength
  • Improved Sleep
  • Decreased Pain

Aerobic Effect

Traditional Ashtanga Yoga

The concentration on controlled transitional movements, sequences of movements, and breathing make this style of yoga very effective at delivering an aerobic effect. Ashtanga yoga is often identified as a sweaty active type. One of the goals of this type of yoga is to heat up the body. The idea is to purify the body through increased circulation and profuse sweating. They warm muscles, tendons and ligaments also makes the later stretches easier.

Ashtanga Yoga is a very energetic type of yoga. It builds strength and flexibility along with an aerobic workout, all while clearing the mind of stress and distraction. This combination of benefits makes it currently one of the more popular forms of yoga exercise.

All one needs for ashtanga Yoga is a mat. In the West, the style is usually performed with an instructor, but traditionally it was meant to be performed individually. Ashtanga consists of six structured movements performed in sequence, so, once learned, one could practice it alone.