Difference Between Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga (5 Steps)

Understanding the difference between Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga can be quite confusing. Many people mistakenly believe they are practicing Ashtanga Yoga when in fact they are practicing Vinyasa Yoga. To clear up any confusion here is a detailed explanation of how Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga are different.

What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

Ashtanga Vinyasa is a dynamic and structured form of yoga developed and popularized by Sri T. Krishnamacharya and later his disciple K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Today Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is practiced worldwide. For those looking to deepen their ashtanga vinyasa practice pursuing an ashtanga vinyasa teacher training course is highly recommended.

Ashtanga vinyasa includes six series of sequences, one primary series, one intermediate series and four advanced series. It’s a physically demanding style of yoga which can take years to master the primary series only.

Breath is an important element in ashtanga vinyasa, it guides practitioners as they flow from one pose to another. Sun salutations are an essential part of the practice with each ashtanga vinyasa posture we hold for five breaths before transitioning to the next pose. A full primary series takes about 90 minutes with each movement related to inhale or exhale along with a visual focus point or drishti.

By understanding what ashtanga vinyasa is, you appreciate its structured approach and the dedication required to master its sequences. This traditional practice offers many benefits such as improving physical strength and flexibility and also improves mindfulness and focus, making it a holistic approach to well being.

Types Of Ashtanga Vinyasa Classes

There are two types of ashtanga vinyasa classes : A guided class led by a teacher and the mysore style also known as self practice.

  1. Guided Classes: Guided classes are led by a teacher who guides us the ashtanga vinyasa series. There are six different types of series for different levels of students.This type of classes are perfect for beginners who don’t know the sequence and need more guidance and support in their ashtanga practice.
  2. Mysore Style Classes: Mysore style classes are the self-practiced classes where students practice the sequence independently with the teacher and the teacher helps the students to adjust in the poses to achieve the poses. This type of class is perfect for more experienced students who have memorized the sequence. One of the key benefits of mysore style classes is the flexibility to join.

Many yoga studios include mysore style classes in their schedules. During these sessions you can practice in silence as it allows you to focus on your breath and mind which aligns you better in your pose. The teacher provides an individual hand on adjustment to each student to refine your poses or to go deeper into your practice. The class structure of mysore style allows you to move at your own pace without worrying about synchronizing with others.

Benefits of Ashtanga Viny asa Yoga

Practicing ashtanga vinyasa yoga offers many health benefits for the body and mind. Here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of ashtanga vinyasa yoga.

  1. Improve Strength and Flexibility: Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a series of dynamic postures that strengthen and stretch the muscles and improve overall flexibility of our body. In a study done in 2012 about premenopausal women improved their muscle strength by practicing ashtanga vinyasa over an eight month duration.
  2. Improve Cardiovascular Health: The physical intensity of ashtanga vinyasa helps to improve our cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and circulation.
  3. Improve Focus and Concentration: the synchronization of breath and movements enhances the focus and concentration while ujjayi breathing reduces the stress and anxiety levels.
  4. Improve Digestion: The twisting and compressing postures in ashtanga vinyasa yoga helps in improving digestion and alleviate the digestive issues.
  5. Better Sleep: Ashtanga vinyasa promotes relaxation and reduces stress which tends to improve our sleep quality.

By incorporating Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga into your daily routine you can experience these transformative benefits and improve your physical and mental well-being.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa yoga is the freestyle adaptation of Ashtanga Vinyasa offering a unique blend of rhythmic bodily movements synchronized with breath. Vinyasa yoga integrates the elements from both hatha yoga and ashtanga vinyasa yoga, combining core principles of traditional ashtanga vinyasa practice with different poses to create a fluid  and creative sequence. This dynamic form of yoga enhances deeper awareness and mindfulness, making it popular among yoga enthusiasts.

In vinyasa yoga each teacher designs their own unique sequence of poses. While many poses overlap between Vinyasa and Ashtanga, they are sequenced differently.

The beauty of Vinyasa yoga lies in its creativity and variety, both demonstrated by the instructor and experienced by the student. Unlike Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, where poses are repeated in a specific order, Vinyasa yoga offers a refreshing diversity in every session.Vinyasa classes typically last between one hour to an hour and a half, often featuring background music to cultivate dynamic energy.

You’ll find fewer adjustments in a Vinyasa class compared to an Ashtanga Vinyasa session, as the instructor primarily focuses on leading the class in a flow.

Difference Between Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa and Vinyasa yoga are related but have distinct differences in their structure, practice, and overall approach. Here are the key differences between the two most popular practice:

1. Structure and Sequence

Ashtanga Vinyasa:

  • Fixed Sequence: Ashtanga Vinyasa follows a set sequence of poses. There are six series in ashtanga vinyasa practice and practitioners must master each pose in a series before moving on to the next.
  • Repetition: Each class follows the same sequence as its fixed sequence, allowing practitioners to deepen their practice through repetition and consistency.

Vinyasa Yoga:

  • Flexible Sequence: Vinyasa yoga does not follow a fixed sequence. Each class can vary widely with the teacher creating their own flow of poses.
  • Variety: No two Vinyasa classes are the same, each class offers a dynamic and variety in practice.

2. Instruction and Adjustments

Ashtanga Vinyasa:

  • Teacher’s Role: In ashtanga vinyasa teachers often do hands-on adjustments to help the students to achieve correct alignment in each pose and to deepen their practice.
  • Self-Practice: Advanced practitioners in ashtanga vinyasa often practice Mysore-style classes, where they practice the sequence at their own pace with some adjustments from the teacher.

Vinyasa Yoga:

  • Teacher’s Role: In vinyasa yoga the teacher leads the class through a creative flow and  often provides verbal cues rather than hands-on adjustments.
  • Guided Flow: The focus in vinyasa yoga  is on guiding the students through a seamless flow of pose with few individual adjustments.

3. Focus and Philosophy

Ashtanga Vinyasa:

  • Traditional Roots: Ashtanga Vinyasa is strongly rooted in traditional yoga philosophy and is practiced in a disciplined and rigorous manner.
  • Breath and Movement: Ashtanga vinyasa focuses on precise breath and movement synchronization called vinyasa with each movement linked to an inhale or exhale.

Vinyasa Yoga:

  • Modern Adaptation: Vinyasa yoga is a more modern and flexible style, incorporating elements from different yoga styles.
  • Creativity and Expression: Vinyasa yoga allows for more creativity and personal expression with a focus on fluidity and the continuous flow of poses.

4. Class Environment

Ashtanga Vinyasa:

  • Silent Practice: Ashtanga vinyasa classes are usually quiet with little or no background music.
  • Routine and Discipline: The fix sequence encourages a meditative and disciplined practice.

Vinyasa Yoga:

  • Dynamic Atmosphere: Vinyasa yoga classes often have background music to boost the dynamic energy of the practice.
  • Dynamic Flow: The variation in sequences creates a lively engaging practice.

5. Duration and Intensity

Ashtanga Vinyasa:

  • Longer Duration: Ashtanga vinyasa classes can be longer, especially for advanced series, and require a high level of physical endurance.
  • High Intensity: Ashtanga vinyasa practice is intense and physically demanding, focusing on building strength, flexibility, and stamina.

Vinyasa Yoga:

  • Flexible Duration: Vinyasa yoga classes usually last between one hour to an hour and a half but can be shorter or longer depending on the teacher’s structure of the class.
  • Variable Intensity: The intensity can vary a lot based on the sequence and the teacher’s style, making it accessible for many practitioners.
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