Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a new modern style of classical Indian Hatha yoga, born in the middle of the 20th century, which quickly gains popularity all over the World.
Ashtanga Yoga is a very intense practice formed of different series of asanas sequences. The poses are connected by active movements, synchronized with breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), energy locks (Bandhas) and focused gaze that all together helps you to concentrate your mind on your practice and on the present moment.
Ashtanga Yoga is often called as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga right because of the vinyasa dynamic complexes which interconnect the asanas. Anyway it is worth noting that there are distinctive differences between these two styles: Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga.
Both Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga bases their practice on the coordination of breathing and motion that is called “vinyasa”, where each movement is followed by one breathe. In Ashtanga classes the set of asanas is practiced the same way each time. Every pose is being hold for five breaths. Normally practitioners do not use props, modifications or music, and the classes are more than predictable.
Ashtanga Yoga is a rigidly-structured style with a rigorous sequence of the poses that cannot be interchanged or passed over until you have achieved the perfect execution of the series so that you can move on the next series. Ashtanga yoga is also distinguished by its Mysore-style classes where the practitioners are expected to memorize their sequence of poses of the series and practice them all together in the same room according to their own rhythm and pace without teacher-led instructions. Of course, the teacher is also presented, but his role is to guide and offer eventual personal corrections, keeping an eye on the group.
The concept of Vinyasa yoga is a little bit different. Vinyasa yoga is flow style yoga that has no limitations or rigid sequences except the imagination of your teacher. The asanas are followed one by other in a voluntary way. You flow from one pose to another finding a real taste of meditation in motion. At the same time the free choice of poses doesn’t mean the anarchic structure of the practice. In Vinyasa yoga classes the teacher normally choose a certain theme (arm balances, hip opening yoga poses, chest opening poses) for each class, guiding you through a series of poses in order to warm and prepare your body for the most challenging peak pose of the class.
Despite the differences which create a personal gravitational pull towards either Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga, both of the styles are designed to strengthen your body, calm and clear your mind and inspire you in your practice, helping to find your own path and encouraging you for other advancements.