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Ashtanga Yoga

A fixed sequence of breath linked yoga poses

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Ashtanga Yoga

Here's an overview of the Ashtanga yoga system.

Ashtanga Yoga Index

Basic Yoga Poses in the Ashtanga Primary Series

In the Ashtanga system, the general practice starts of with sun salutations to warm up the body.

These move between standing poses and belly down poses.

basic yoga poses, sun salutation a, Neil Keleher, Sensational yoga poses
basic yoga poses, sun salutation b, Sensational Yoga Poses, Neil Keleher

Then from there the focus is on standing poses, some of them balancing on one foot poses like Big Toe Pose, then seated poses, most of them seated forward bends or hamstring stretching yoga poses, and supine (belly up) poses, followed by some inverted yoga poses, namely headstand and shoulderstand.

This can be used as a basic template for building your own practice. Sun salutations, standing poses, Seated poses, Supine poses then inversions.

A closer look at the actions included in the sun salutations

A closer look at sun salutations shows that they include backward and forward bending spine actions. So for example, the first movement of each sun salutation, lifting the arms, can be accompanied by a backward bend of the spine. Also, upward dog involves a backward bend of the spine. Meanwhile, The second movement, bending forwards, can involve a forwards bending of the spine.

They also include backward and forward bending hip actions. The main backward bending hip action happens in upward dog. Forward bending hip actions occur in the standing forward bends, chair pose (at the beginning of sun salutation b) and in downward dog pose.

A closer look at the standing poses

As for the standing poses, they include a mix of bent and straight knee poses, as well as asymmetrical poses with the legs spread front to back (longitudinal standing poses) and then side to side (lateral standing poses).

Grabbing the Big toes in a standing forward bend. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Chair pose, a squatting pose with thighs horizontal. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Reverse prayer, a standing forward bend with one leg forward and the other leg back, both knees straight. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Side angle pose, a basic yoga pose with one leg straight and the other bent (while standing). Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

The lateral asymmetrical poses are noteworthy because in these poses, triangle and side angle, the hip is bent to the side with the thigh turned out (or if you prefer, externally rotated.)

A closer look at the seated oses

The seated poses are mainly forward bends for the hips. A lot of these are asymmetrical with one leg straight and the other knee bent. But, the bent knee leg is taken through a wide variety of bent knee positions.

Janu sirsasana pose, a seated forward bend with one knee bent. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Marichyasana-a pose, a seated forward bend with the bend knee bound by the arms. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

These include positions with the shin folded to the inside of the thigh and to the outside of the thigh.

As an example, the first two asymmetrical seated poses are a lotus pose variation which folds the foot to the inside of the thigh and a hero pose variation which folds the foot to the outside of the thigh.

Seated bound lotus pose with one leg in lotus position and the other leg straight. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Half hero pose, a seated yoga pose with the shin of one leg folded to the outside of the thigh (kneeling). Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

How the seated poses "mirror" the standing poses

If you look closely at the ashtanga primary series with a discerning eye you'll see that a lot of similarities between the standing poses and the seated or supine poses. It's almost as if the seated part of the series is just the standing poses done sitting down.

Published: 2016 08 02
Updated: 2021 01 24

Neil Keleher

Neil Keleher is a Systems Design Engineer with a bachelor's degree from the University of Waterloo.

He has taught yoga for over 22 years. He specializes in anatomy related to proprioception and movement.
He illustrates his own anatomy articles.

His classes focus on improving body awareness while at the same time building strength, stability and flexibility.

Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.

Ebooks and video courses by Neil Keleher

Balance Basics ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Yoga Basics 1 ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Yoga Basics 2 ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Yoga for shoulders ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Hip control Guide ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Working towards wheel pose ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Dance of Shiva ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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know to flow ebook. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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ebook bundle including: the dance of shiva, balance basics, yoga for your shoulders, yoga basics 1, yoga basics 2, the hip control guide, working towards wheel pose, know to flow.

Ebook bundle: 8 books

take out the slack. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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5 Sensational yoga routines for beginners. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Frictional muscle control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Extreme stability, Foot and Ankle Stability for Better Hip Control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Mindful muscle control and proprioception. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Ribcage mobility video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Muscle control for your Spine video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Hip flexor control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Hamstring control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Thigh muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Long thigh muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Deep hip muscle control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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SI joints, hips and spine control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Shoulder control video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Arm strength for push ups video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Better hip joint control. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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Leg anatomy video course. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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take out the slack. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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