When you go to an Ashtanga Yoga class for the first time, you'll probably be learning Primary Series. In Sanskrit it is known as "Yoga Chikitsa" which means Yoga Therapy. Its purpose is to re-align the spine, detoxify the body, build strength, and increase flexibility.
The room is about 80°F, so your muscles can easily warm up. The instructor talks you though each pose and counts the breaths, so everyone is moving together in unison. (It's pretty amazing to see and experience.) The class is the same every time and anywhere. So if you love Primary Series, you can even find a class when you're travelling.
The basic sequence is as follows:
- 5 Sun Salutation A
- 5 Sun Salutation B
- Standing Postures
- Seated Postures
- Closing Sequence (inversions and backbends)
- Savasana (10 minute relaxation)
Want to know what makes it different from other kinds of Yoga? Then read more
The poses are linked together with vinyasas, or mini-Sun Salutations. Your breath (called ujayi) is loud and throaty, kind of like Darth Vader. Each inhale and exhale is linked to a movement, so Primary Series is a moving meditation, kind of like a dance.
Primary Series is excellent for runners, bikers, skiers, and riders because it involves a ton of forward bends to help loosen up your tight hips, hamstrings and the lower back. You warm up your muscles, really work them, and sweat a river. It's really difficult physically, so at the end of the 1 1/2 hour class, when you're lying in Savasana, you feel like you have taken quite a journey.
Fit's Tips: So you don't feel overwhelmed, it's a good idea to check out the poses ahead of time. Many studios encourage you to watch a class first. Or you can check out these helpful guides to learn the poses, and find out more about Ashtanga Yoga in general.