Ashtanga yoga is designed to create discomfort, forming physically and mentally strong students. To get the flavor of Ashtanga practice, begin with 3-5 repetitions of Sun Salutation A to build heat and connect breath and movement. Photos by Kelly Harris.
Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle posture)
Step out with the right leg, turn the feet and drop the right hip to exhale out into Triangle posture. Fill out the back of the posture and roll the top side open while keeping the ribs in. Breathe five times, come up on an inhale and swivel the feet to the left and repeat. Step to the top of the mat.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Lateral Angle posture)
Step out with the right leg, turn the feet, bend the right knee and bring the right ribs toward or against the right thigh with the fingertips or hand to the floor (use a block or modification as needed). Ground the right heel to elevate the right hip while dropping the ribs. Extend the left side from foot to hand. Breathe five breaths. Inhale, change sides, repeat and step back to the top of the mat.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe posture)
Inhale raise the right leg and catch the right big toe (or knee). Draw the right hip and shoulder back toward neutral while dropping the tailbone and feeling the back line of the body. Take five breaths and repeat on the left side.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I posture)
Move through Sun Salutation A into Downward Dog. Step the right foot forward, turn the back leg to 45 degrees and raise the arms above the shoulders. Stride into the legs and narrow the waist. Take five breaths, move through low plank, updog and downdog, and repeat on the left side. Jump or step through to seated.
Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee posture)
Bend the right leg to bring the foot to the left inner thigh and exhale into the forward bend, grounding the legs and projecting forward through the spine. Breathe five times. Release the posture, draw the legs in and step or jump to high plank, low plank, updog, downdog and back through to seated. Repeat left side.
Marichyasana C (Sage’s posture)
Bend right leg, sole of the foot to the floor. Twist to the right, pressing against or binding around the right leg with the right arm. Reach through the left foot and crown of the head. Release the posture, vinyasa and repeat on the left side.
Padmasana (Lotus posture)
Fold the legs into lotus, or cross them in easy-cross-leg. Bring the back of the hands to the knees, lift the back waist and deepen the throat. Close the eyes and breathe 10 slow breaths. Release and take rest.