As yoga becomes more and more popular, so does the number of yoga styles present. Although all styles have certain universal advantages because they are part of the same metaphorical yoga tree, each style provides unique opportunities for practitioners. The style of practicing yoga is a very personal choice-different styles seem to attract different practitioners.
The two most popular yoga styles today are Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga. There are several key factors to consider when choosing a practice style. In this blog you will learn about all the differences between Ashtanga and Vinyasa, so that you can make your choice wisely.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga Yoga, as a yoga style, should not be confused with the Ashtanga philosophy (eight steps) proposed by the saint Patanjali. He is the author of the Yoga Sutra, which is a 2000-year-old Yoga Sutra.
This style of yoga is very popular in the West and is almost admired by many celebrities today. Known for its disciplined and structured yoga methods, these limbs are the essence of the foundation of yoga, each of which has different values:
- Yama – Rules of Moral Code
- Niyama – Observance of Moral Code through Personal Behaviors
- Asana – Yoga Postures
- Pranayama – Breathing Techniques
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the Senses
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Merging with the Divine
What is Vinayasa Yoga?
The practice of Vinyasa Yoga originated from a branch of Ashtanga Yoga, but has become a form of yoga. From the slow flow of Vinyasa yoga to power yoga. Vinyasa contains many of the same poses used in Ashtanga, but the order often changes, so no two classes are the same.
Another basic feature of Vinyasa yoga practice is the use of Ujjai breathing, which encourages practitioners to “focus on breathing every time they inhale and exhale.” Many vinyasa levels are also available, so students can choose between a slow relaxation course or a more athletic course. A quick exercise depends on what your body needs for the day.
The traditional vinyasa involves moving from the high board to the low board to enter the cobra or dog pose, face up and back to the dog face down. This procedure is considered an ideal way to clean the spine and prepare for the next asana.
Ashtanga Yoga vs Vinyasa Yoga
Let’s look at some of the major differences between the two styles of yoga.
1# Ashtanga Follows Fixed Sequence, Vinyasa is Personalized
Ashtanga Yoga follows a fixed sequence of postures, which means that all Ashtanga Yoga classes you take are the same everywhere in the world. They follow the same pattern, sequence, and number of breaths.
The basic sequence of practice, especially in the instructional class, is a basic sequence consisting of 4 different parts:
- Sun salutation
- Standing posture
- Sitting posture
- Closing sequence
People who feel this kind of repetition is tiring, for them, vinyasa may be the best choice. The reason for this is that vinyasa courses can be personalized and customized, and are more interesting.
A typical stream yoga class may follow a rough process similar to Ashtanga Yoga. For example, you can start with the sun salutation, but variants are recommended. Therefore, it would be helpful to consider Vinyasa or Vinyasa Flow, as this is also called freestyle Ashtanga yoga.
2# Use of Tristhana Method
Ashtanga Yoga uses the Tristhana method to help us stay focused during practice. Tristana means the combination of three points of attention:
- Asana (posture)
- Drishti (gaze)
- Breathing (breathing with voice)
Through Ashtanga, we keep returning to these three focal points. This is one of the main differences between Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. In Ashtanga Yoga, we try to move inward and stabilize the mind, which is not always the case in Vinyasa Yoga.
3# Different Levels of Practice
While Vinyasa is taught to fit at different levels, Ashtanga Yoga is taught differently. More traditional research on Ashtanga Yoga has focused on Mysore-style practice. Yoga studios offering both practices can provide seminars for beginners and even teach Ashtanga in the afternoon.
It is also possible to provide introductory courses once a week, but these courses are usually not open to beginners. Therefore, if you want to practice and perform more flexibly, Vinyasa yoga may be your best choice. On the other hand, if you want a more disciplined practice that is also a meditation in sports, then Ashtanga Yoga may be the perfect choice for you.
4# Use of Music & Props
Each vinyasa course is tailored according to the needs and mood of teachers and students present. Some stream yoga teachers like to play music in class, which can be mantras, Indian music, or even Western music. The possibilities are really endless. The experience is great because it is very different from the main practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga has no music and no outside interference. The only “music” is the rhythm of our breathing and the breathing when our fellow practitioners are lucky enough to practice with others. Whether you like to listen to music while practicing or not, this is indeed a personal preference and the main goal of your practice.
Generally speaking, most traditional Ashtanga yoga teachers advise against using props. The yoga probe includes yoga blocks, straps and brackets. The reason is not to interrupt the flow of the exercise. Nevertheless, flow yoga can use correctly made accessories, which can actually help deepen the posture and even correct the misalignment. Props can also help injured people because they can help the body find better alignment or help doctors find simpler postures.
Traditional Ashtanga yoga is beneficial to students because it enables them to understand and master each step before proceeding to the next step, whereas Vinyasa yoga seems to be more suitable for advanced students or those who already know the eight branches.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa are both physical challenges, and both can help build strength. Now, if you think one is harder than the other, that is a personal preference. If you want to challenge your body, both types of yoga are suitable for you.
You can mix and match until you find the one that appeals to you the most. You can even practice both at the same time!