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Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow & Power Yoga Styles
by Marianne Woods Cirone, M.S., R.Y.T., Certified Yoga Teacher

In Ashtanga (or astanga) yoga, also known as power yoga, the yoga postures flow with an emphasis on strength and agility. Ashtanga yoga is also referred to as Flow Yoga or Vinyasa (series of poses), and focuses less on alignment than Iyengar yoga, and props are used less frequently. Ashtanga yoga, popularized by originator Pattabhi Jois, often appeals to the person who is fit or desires to become so quickly as it usually involves a challenging physical routine. Ashtanga yoga takes its name from the eight limbs of yoga which include moral, physical and spiritual practices, which are taught in many classes, typically more so in yoga studios. An excellent book on Ashtanga Yoga is Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois. The cornerstone of power yoga is the sun salutation, a twelve-pose flowing series which is modified in various ways known as the primary and secondary series, with attention is paid to linking the breath and the movements. Those new to yoga may want to take time to become familiar with each pose before going to make sure they understand the poses before beginning the flow.

The cornerstone of power yoga is the sun salutation, a twelve-pose flowing series which is modified in various ways known as the primary and secondary series, with attention is paid to linking the breath and the movements. Those new to yoga may want to take time to become familiar with each pose before going to make sure they understand the poses before beginning the flow.

A classic and maybe the most popular book on Ashtanga yoga is Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual: An Illustrated Guide to Personal Practice by David Swenson. It is a spiral-bound to enhance its usability during practice, and contains 650 photographs which include the full primary and intermediate series, which are two of the divisions of ashtanga yoga. This book includes modifications of poses and the explanations behind the poses and their sequencing. Readers can create their own routines lasting from 15-minutes to over two hours. David's brother, Doug, has also written a book on Ashtanga yoga, called Power Yoga for Dummies.

For those interested in other Ashtanga or Power yoga books, Baron Baptiste has recently released a popular book entitled, Journey into Power: How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga and has several videos to complement the book. Veteran yoga teacher Beryl Bender Birch has written an earlier book called Power Yoga: The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout and also has developed a power yoga video tape/DVD.

Books on Ashtanga yoga provide excellent support for classes and videos because often the classes move quickly and there is little time to discuss or analyze the individual poses. A fairly new book on Ashtanga yoga is Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive Step-By-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga by yoga instructor John Scott, with a foreword by Ashtanga yoga guru Pattabhi Jois, which provides clear photographs of the "first series". This book can help clarify the poses and the sequencing for Ashtanga practitioners. One of the features of Ashtanga yoga is the emphasis on the breathing and coordination of each movement with the poses, which Scott discusses.

Ashtanga Yoga for Women by Sally Griffyn and Micheala Clarke is suggested as a reference for women who do ashtanga yoga and are looking for specific modifications appropriate for women. This book contains the primary series, plus the benefits and sequencing of "power yoga" as it relates to the female life cycle and for specific purposes such as stress relief or detoxification. This book also includes informations on preventing injuries, healthy eating, and further resources. Knowing how to modify poses for your own unique characteristics, injuries, etc. is very important in ashtanga yoga since classes can be fast-paced.

A form of Ashtanga that originated in New York is Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul, by Sharon Gannon and David Life. Their book by the same name describes the order in which poses are done, but not the detail of the poses themselves. Their focus of their power yoga workout incorporates deeply the yogic scriptures, plus chanting and meditation. Gannon and Life have been pictured on the cover of Yoga Journal and the Jivamukti (meaning "soul liberation") style of strong spiritual focus in addition to the sequencing of the poses in an asthanga format has made their style of yoga quite popular.

Before undertaking videos such as these it helps if one is familiar with the individual postures first, and knows what actions and resistances they are striving toward in the posture as the videos tend to supply inadequate depth in this regard. Visiting a yoga class can be helpful in supplying this information. Some experts suggest that a potential downside of Ashtanga yoga for both experienced and inexperienced practitioners can be injuries. Caution should be used in ashtanga practice, especially if any pain is experienced during or after practice as detrimental movement patterns could become ingrained. Sticky mats should be used unless they get excessively wet. Cotton yoga rugs can be useful to avoid slipping on a mat if perspiration gets the mat wet and slippery. The rug can be used on top of the sticky mat also.

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