Ashtanga means eight limbs, or branches, with the poses being just a single limb. It’s a style of yoga that was started by Master Yogi Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century, and is deeply rooted in tradition. Ashtanga is also one of the most physically demanding and mentally challenging forms of yoga. The long holds, the poses, the vinyasas, and the level of focus in Ashtanga classes is intense, but in a good way. Ashtanga is typically practiced in silence, with just the sound of the breath and the teacher’s voice permeating throughout the room. Each class begins with a Sanskrit invocation followed by a warm-up of five rounds of classic Sun Salutations A and B. The full Primary Series, or an improvisation of the series continues with holding each pose for five breaths before moving on to the next pose or sequence. The class leads to deep breath work, meditation and ends with a long savasana. Since the sequence is always the same, it’s a little easier for the student to see progress.
Michelle Hackett, our Ashtanga yoga expert, teaches classes that offer a well-rounded experience. Be ready to expand your breath to places you never thought possible and challenge your core with Bandha (energy lock) work. The silence in the room and precise cuing from the teacher help the student discover new places in the postures each time they do the series. Learn how to master Ujjayi breathing in Ashtanga classes and focus on deep, long stretches that help release tension from the muscles.
We are lucky that the San Diego Ashtanga yoga scene is filled with several dedicated and talented instructors. Michelle Hackett received her training from Tim Miller, a direct student of Pattabhi Jois, and their knowledge, lineage and love of the practice is evident in every class she teaches. Read more about Michelle in our Buddhi Yoga La Jolla Teacher of the Month interview.