By Guest Blogger: Manmohan Singh
The yoga styles such as Hatha yoga, Kundalini yoga or Bikram yoga are quite popular among the yoga lovers across the globe. Ashtanga yoga is generally eluded as people perceive it to be an intensive yoga practice. But, in reality, it is a life-transforming artform with its roots in traditional Vedic Wisdom, an eight-limbed practice that combines a series of flowing and static yoga postures. A true Ashtangi shows up to the mat six days a week, resting on Saturday and refraining from the practice on the days that new moon and the full moon falls during the month. An Ashtangi enjoys mystical benefits that extend to physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Here is a list of key reasons why Ashtanga yoga should be practiced:
1. Improves Flexibility: As with the most styles of yoga, Ashtanga yoga practice works towards improving flexibility over time. Although, it is important to listen to the body’s needs and never push it beyond its parameters. Within a few weeks of dedicated ashtanga yoga practice, flexibility rewards start to show. The practice of sun-salutation at the start of the series fortifies the core and the performance of flowing yoga poses increases the flexibility by improving tissue elasticity at a greater level.
2. Builds Strength: The practice of Primary series includes vinyasas that are done with every posture. A lot of Ashtanga movements involve holding one’s own body weight or balancing the body on just one hand or leg-- this builds a ton of strength in your muscles and increases your overall body strength.
3. Improves Cardiovascular Fitness: Ashtanga yoga practice makes you sweat profusely. The constant practice of Vinyasas between each pose keeps the heart rate up throughout the practice which not only helps in increasing strength and flexibility but also improves cardiovascular fitness.
4. Effective Stress Reliever: Breath awareness is the prime focus of Ashtanga yoga. With a constant focus on the breath, you are able to recognize the long-established breathing patterns and co-related behavior patterns. The deeper awareness of the breath allows you to alter the unwanted behavior pattern and leaves you feeling relaxed and stress-free.
5. Enhances Focus and Creativity: When you are totally relaxed, your mind is calm without stressing about the past mishappenings or dwelling into the future events, you enjoy the present moment to the fullest. This is the state when you experience your most creative side. Also, when the mind is clear you are able to focus on important things.
6. Develops Positive Attitude: The Ashtanga yoga involves the practice of Ujjayi breathing technique. This involves a slight contraction of the glottis to make the sound of the ocean as you breathe in and out of the nose. The long, deep, calming breaths improve concentration, give positivity and make you healthy.
7. Transcends Ego: Some people think doing the same sequence of postures every day seems too repetitive and they tend to lose interest. But the execution of the same postures day by day allows you to build a rapport with each movement. However, a practitioner soon finds that every aspect of the practice--the locks, the breath, the postures is a feature of meditation. The more you dwell in the meditation practice, you let go your ego.
8. Reduces Body Fat: Committing to a daily ashtanga yoga practice can help you burn a ton of fat on the stomach and arms. The Ashtanga yoga classes incorporate the mind-body awareness that promotes weight loss. This allows you to eat more consciously, and to stop when you feel full to avoid overeating. The practice also reduces stress levels thus making you feel less inclined to eating or drinking when anxious.
9. Therapeutic For Back Pain: Many people complain about the excruciating back pain that makes the simplest act of walking a nightmare, never mind doing an asana. But the Ashtanga yoga is found to be therapeutic for a backache. The practice of Ashtanga yoga tones the lower abdominal muscles realigns the musculoskeletal system and effectively diminishes the back pain.
10. Makes you happy: The Ashtangis always talk about how the regular practice of Ashtanga yoga relieves the body from nagging pain, clears the mind from ongoing worries, and provides emotional stability. It’s like getting a relaxing massage every day that gives you a happy soul and youthful glow.
11. A blueprint of Well-being: A daily Ashtanga practice gets deep rooted in our being so that when we miss a day of practice, our body and mind feel the difference. Without it, you may notice that your mind wanders around, your old body ache returns and body temperature gets deregulated. In order to live a healthy life, it's important to live from the authentic self. A daily Ashtanga practice connects you with your true self and leads you towards well-being.
If you want to embark on a journey where you can live a relaxed, happy, and healthy life, then Ashtanga yoga is your true calling.
About the Author
Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. For more information about him visit his website.