If you find your way into an Ashtanga yoga class, there are many reasons why you'll definitely be back for another class. But for the very same reasons some may fall in love with Ashtanga, others will swear off it forever.
- Didn't we do this yesterday (and last week and last month?): If there were one word to describe the classes you'll find in Ashtanga, it would be repetitive. Every class within the Ashtanga series is exactly the same, no matter what day of the week, who teaches it, or where the class is held. Some people enjoy knowing which poses are coming next, and the repetition also makes it easier to focus on breath and measure progress over time. For others, repetition equals boredom and may even cause a repetitive stress injury — especially if you're unable to complement an Ashtanga practice with other forms of exercise.
- Moolah what?: Traditionally Ashtanga is taught by calling out the Sanskrit names of the poses. For newbies, this can be very frustrating and makes for a lot of looking around the room to figure out what the heck Chaturanga means. Some people fall in love with the language and once they learn the Sanskrit names, it makes their yoga practice feel that much more authentic.
- Did someone turn the heat on?: Why yes, they did. Even during the warmer months, some teachers will still turn up the heat. While an Ashtanga class is not as hot as a Bikram class, it's traditionally taught in a heated room; this is to help warm up the muscles, but definitely makes for a hot and sweaty practice. Some people crave practicing in a hot room, while others hate it so much, they never come back.
- Touchy-feely: If you're in a Seated Forward Bend and you feel warm palms gently pressing on your back, you either smile all over or cringe with each second. Not everyone is into being touched, which means not everyone is into the assists (also called adjustments) instructors often give their students to help them get deeper into a pose. While some assists may feel amazing, others can put you at risk for injury, not to mention getting sick (a completely valid concern). If you're not a fan of being physically helped on your mat, you can always politely tell the instructor before class.
- Hello hamstrings!: Primary Series is the most common class taught in Ashtanga and it's all about different variations of forward bends. This makes it great for runners, cyclists, and desk workers who tend to suffer from tight hamstrings or lower backs. Spending so much time bending forward does make for flexible hamstrings, but it can also create muscular imbalances in the body from not focusing enough time stretching other parts of the body. This can be avoided by taking the more advanced Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series class, which focuses on backbends, twists, and arm balancing poses.
Source: Flickr User gbSk