As yoga practices go, ashtanga yoga is one of the more vigorous types. With ashtanga yoga you will find yourself getting a whole body workout that, particularly at advanced levels when it raises your heart rate. If practiced regularly, ashtanga yoga can be an integral and effective component of your weight loss program.
About Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word that means “eight limbs.” These are eight elements of spiritual practice that rule the mind, body and spirit. The physical elements include control of the breath and senses, posture and bodily purification. The mental and spiritual elements involve meditation, intention, contemplation and ethical considerations.
What to Expect from Ashtanga Yoga
While these philosophies are at the core of ashtanga yoga, your particular class and the degree to which these elements are addressed will depend entirely on your teacher. With most ashtanga yoga classes, you can expect some elements of chanting and/or meditation to start the class. This puts you in the right frame of mind, clears out any excessive thoughts and relaxes you.
Ashtanga Yoga and the Breath
Breathing is a large component of ashtanga yoga. The ujjayi breath is used, a method of breathing where you breathe in and out through your nose. You fill your stomach and lungs deeply with air. The ujjayi breath is performed in between asanas, or postures. The purpose of the deep breathing is to oxygenate your entire body and energize you. The breath fuels you and also clears out any unwanted toxins or impurities from your body.
A Cardio Workout
When you see people leave an advanced ashtanga class, they are usually drenched in sweat. This is because ashtanga yoga is very strenuous. You typically move continuously for a period of 90 minutes. You are moving in and out of vigorous postures that challenge your balance, strength, flexibility and stamina.
If your goal is to get a good cardio workout, you will want to start with a beginning ashtanga yoga class and work your way up to the advanced levels. To do this, you will want to attend often. You will see best results if you attend at least four or five times per week. Attending an ashtanga yoga class infrequently will make it difficult to progress quickly to advanced levels. A regular practice will leave you stronger, more flexible and help you to burn off more calories on a regular basis.
Reduction in Stress and Weight Loss
An additional advantage of ashtanga yoga, or any yoga practice, is the impact on your stress levels. People who practice yoga regularly find that it relieves them of worry and anxiety, and creates a calmer presence. This is particularly useful if you are dieting. High stress levels lead to overeating for some people. When you are less stressed, you will likely be more mindful in your eating practices.
Through a regular practice of ashtanga yoga, you will find yourself getting a cardio workout that uses postures and the breath to raise your heart rate and energize you. The calming benefits of yoga will also relax you and help you to achieve your weight loss goals more quickly.