Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is consists of six series, created by K. Pattabhi Jois. The series includes Primary Series, Secondary Series and four Advanced Series. Also, all the aforementioned series commence with five repetitions of Surya Namaskar A and Surya Namaskar B and then a standing sequence.
Yoga Gurus recommend to always perfect an asana before commencing the other one in an Ashtanga series.
Let us understand these series in detail.
The Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga
The primary series of Ashtanga yoga is also known by its Sanskrit name Yoga Chikitsa. Its practice requires lots of vigor and strength. It prepares a strong foundation for the succeeding series. Hence, it is a must series for an Ashtanga yogi to learn and practice.
The asanas in the series are arranged in a specific succession order. So, a practitioner is expected to practice them in the same order as successful completion of one asana leads to another.
This series has multiple benefits of practicing it.
The asanas in this series-
- detoxify body systems
- loosen stiff muscles
- prepare you for the subsequent series
Due to its multiple health benefits, Yoga Chikitsa is known as Yoga for Health too.
The asanas in this series-
- help to improve concentration power
- boost confidence and self-reliance
- assist to advance the strength of brain
Moreover, the primary series also helps to cleanse and cure the mind and body. Hence, its other name Yoga Therapy.
The Intermediate Series of Ashtanga Yoga
Nadi Shodhana is the Sanskrit name of the intermediate or second series of Ashtanga yoga. This series opens up and cleanse the fine energy that comes through the nervous system. Therefore, It can be loosely translated as Nerve Cleansing
In fact, Nadi Shodana is intended to cleanse and purify the energy channels. This series robustly affect the nervous system. Therefore, it is supposed to have an exclusively different outcome than the primary series. Due to which, it is recommended to conclude the practice with Shavasana.
Benefits of Intermediate Series
This series has a variety of advantages in practicing it. The practice of asanas in intermediate series of Ashtanga yoga-
- helps heart conditions to get better
- improves body posture
- advances the functioning of lungs
- facilitates blood flow to the heart, lung, and spine
- detoxifies the inner organs.
- heightens self-confidence
The intermediate series by and large consist of the asanas that focus on backbends, leg-over-head asanas, and headstand variations.
The Advanced Series of Ashtanga Yoga
The advanced series is known as the third series of Ashtanga yoga. Its Sanskrit name is Sthira Bhaga. Moreover, the first two series set a strong base for the practice of the advanced series. To get to the advanced series, one has to sustain absolute commitment and discipline throughout the practice of prior series.
The practice in the advanced series needs flexibility, strength, gratitude, modesty and tons of fortitude.
Levels of the Advanced Series
- Advanced A, or Third series
- Advanced B, or Fourth series
- Advanced C, or Fifth series
- Advanced D, or Sixth series
The intense backbend like viparita shalabhasana and eka pada rajakapotasana stretch spine and open energy channels. Arm balancing poses like Eka pada Galavasana, Astavakrasana, Chakorasana, Eka pada bakasana A and B, and Kala bhairavasana require stability from a practitioner.
Benefits of Advanced Series
Like the prior two series, there are plenty of benefits of practicing the Advance Series. The practice of asanas in the advanced series of Ashtanga Yoga-
- makes you feel exceedingly revitalized and rejuvenated
- improves breathing efficiency
- helps to improve eyesight effectively
- makes the body flexible and strong
To practice this series, a learner should have the enormity to retain stability and strength. Therefore, It is called Centering of Strength or Divine Stability.
Points to consider before getting into Ashtanga Yoga:
- Make sure you have enough strength to practice Ashtanga series
- Follow all the discipline during your learning and practice
- Make sure you are proficient enough in the first two series to practice the advanced series
- Ensure you are skillful enough to perform intense bending to be able to practice asanas like Urdhva Dhanurasana, Kapotasana, etc
- Always practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher to help and guide you in your journey
- Be patient, calm and composed during the time period of your learning
Some asanas or series of Ashtanga yoga might have different kinds of impact over a learner. So feel free to talk to your yoga teacher about it.