Before we understand more about Ashtanga Yoga, we would do better to know more about the meaning of the word ‘Ashtanga’. Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word and it literally means eight limbs (Ashta, meaning “eight” and Anga, meaning “limbs”). It is all about exercising the eight limbs, which are interconnected with one another. Thus, when we talk about mastering this yoga, you should keep in mind that it is a gradual process and should be done only under the strict supervision of a qualified yoga teacher. Let us have a look at a few of the major asanas which are a part of this famous form of yogic exercises.
There are various other standing poses, which are also known as the fundamental positions of Ashtanga Yoga. These fundamental positions are comprised of six standing positions and all of them are done immediately after the sun salutation yogic poses. Once these fundamental positions are mastered and could be done flawlessly, we could move to the finishing sequences of yogic asanas which are referred to as The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. There are a total of 16 asanas in this category and it does take a lot of time and effort to practice each one of them.
While traditional yoga exercise focuses more on deep breathing, relaxation, and flexibility, this particular type of yoga focuses more on strength and stamina. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why it is so popular amongst youth. It would not be out of place to mention that many athletes find these asanas very useful in increasing staying power and overall stamina. However, the poses are quite difficult compared to other yoga exercises. Hence, if you wish to master these yoga asanas, you should start early in your life, when your body is more flexible.
Since these asanas take many forms, you have to be patient and spend a lot of time mastering each of the three main categories before you could be called as someone who has reasonable expertise in this form of yoga. Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation is perhaps the most popular of the various Ashtanga Yoga formations. It consists of nine movements. In fact, there are two parts to Surya Namaskara, viz. Part A and Part B. While Part A consists of nine movements, Part B consists of 17 movements which are a continuation of the nine movements mentioned in Part A.