Ashtanga & Iyengar: Two Pillars of Traditional Practice

Ashtanga & Iyengar: Two Pillars of Traditional Practice

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When it comes to yoga, there are two styles that really make an impact: Ashtanga and Iyengar. These practices have their own unique approaches and can greatly benefit those who practice them.

Even though they're both from India and have some similarities, they actually have different approaches and beliefs when it comes to achieving wellness and self-awareness.

Ashtanga Yoga: The Dynamic Flow

Origin & Philosophy:

Ashtanga's name comes from the Sanskrit words "Ashta" (meaning eight) and "Anga" (meaning limb), which refers to the eight limbs of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

Founded by K. Pattabhi Jois, this practice is perfect for those who love a structured, dynamic workout.

It's a six-series sequence where each posture flows into the next, powered by the Ujjayi breath. This 'breath-synchronized' movement helps build heat, endurance, and a deep sense of rhythm in your practice.

Core Features:

  • Sequenced Practice: In Ashtanga, there's a specific sequence of postures that practitioners need to follow. This sequence is all about purifying and strengthening the body in a progressive manner. It's like a systematic approach to help you get the most out of your practice.

  • Vinyasa Movement: Vinyasa, a key element of Ashtanga, involves syncing your breath with movement. This creates a calming yet energetic flow that helps you sweat out toxins and detoxify your body.

  • Drishti (Focused Gaze): Each pose in Ashtanga has a specific point of focus, guiding the practitioner's attention and enhancing concentration.

Iyengar Yoga: The Art of Precision

Origin & Philosophy:

On the flip side, Iyengar Yoga, brought to life by B.K.S. Iyengar, is all about precision and alignment. According to him, getting your posture right not only helps you excel in yoga but also promotes self-discovery and a deeper connection with yourself.

If you're someone who loves detail and a methodical approach, Iyengar Yoga is your calling.

It focuses on anatomical details and the correct alignment of each posture, using props like blocks, straps, and bolsters to help practitioners of all levels achieve perfect form.

Core Features:

  • Detailed Alignment: In Iyengar sessions, they really get into the nitty-gritty of each posture. They want to make sure you nail the right alignment, so you can fully benefit from your practice.

  • Use of Props: Iyengar yoga stands out from other styles by promoting the use of props such as belts, blocks, and wall ropes. These tools make it easier for yogis at any level to fully experience the benefits of each pose and avoid injury.

  • Therapeutic Approach: Iyengar yoga is all about being flexible and adaptable. That's why it's often used as a therapeutic tool to target specific health problems or conditions.

Finding Your Path : How to choose

If you're into dynamic and sweaty practices with a traditional touch, Ashtanga is your go to yoga style. On the other hand, if you prefer a methodical and detail-oriented approach that can be customized to your specific needs, Iyengar is the way to go.

Choosing between them? It's a matter of personal preference and depends on your personal goals, fitness level, and what resonates with you spiritually. S

Some yogis thrive on the rhythm and rigor of Ashtanga, while others find their happiness in the precision of Iyengar.

And many like to mix and match different elements in their work. It adds a unique touch and makes things more interesting!

Wrapping up

Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga may have their unique styles, but they both show how yoga can truly change your life.

Whether you prefer the flowing movements of Ashtanga or the precise alignments of Iyengar, getting on the mat is where your adventure towards self-discovery and overall health and wellness begins.

Why not give both a try and see which one aligns with your yoga soul? Cheers.

Thank you, as always, for reading. AND for inviting me to be a part of your world.

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