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Ashtanga Yoga for Men: Benefits
Written By Jonathan Gilbert
Ashtanga yoga is an asana-based practice that was originated in India and popularized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who taught ashtanga to the public for over 50 years. The asanas (postures) of ashtanga yoga are designed to help one transcend through a series of poses that work on strengthening and conditioning the body.
Men will find ashtanga yoga to be a challenging yet rewarding experience; it can help men with back pain, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as well as physical ailments such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
In this guide, we'll take you through what you need to know about ashtanga yoga for men!
What is Ashtanga yoga?
The physical component of Ashtanga Yoga is called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is a centuries-old practice taught by gurus and teachers for thousands of years.
The most well-known depiction of Ashtanga Yoga is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which were composed over 2,000 years ago. The literal translation of Ashtanga Yoga is "eight-limbed yoga," with eight spiritual disciplines forming the path to internal cleansing. These include:
Yama – Moral or ethical codes and disciplines
Niyama – Self observation
Asana – Posture
Pranayama – Breath control
Pratyahara – Control and withdrawal of the senses
Dharana – Concentration
Dhyana – Meditation
Samadhi – Fully integrated supreme consciousness
Yama and niyama are two of eight limbs of yoga that deal with our external behaviour. These themes are important to our social circle and how we perceive ourselves internally. While these concepts aren't specifically covered on our yoga mat, yoga's postures and breathing exercises can affect our yamas and niyamas by forcing us to be more introspective.
Pratyahara is the process of withdrawing our senses from external objects and directing them internally. The three internal limbs result from these external branches, bringing the mind under control.
Vinyasa is a breathing and movement technique that is important to Ashtanga Yoga. This aids internal cleansing and combines with the postures (positions) to provide a complete yoga experience.
As a beginner, Ashtanga might feel strenuous and difficult to accomplish. But as you practice the series of asanas in Ashtanga yoga, you yourself getting stronger both physically and mentally.
Sequences and series
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is composed of six series from which you can choose from depending on your current fitness level for intense but rewarding asana practice. In this style of yoga, students are encouraged to work towards mastering specific asanas.
A typical Ashtanga Vinyasa session starts with Surya Namaskara A and B, followed by a standing sequence. The practitioner then goes through one of six series before ending with a standard closing sequence.
The six series in Ashtanga include:
The Primary series: Yoga Chikitsa, Yoga for Health or Yoga Therapy
The Intermediate series: Nadi Shodhana, The Nerve Purifier (also called the Second series)
The Advanced series: Sthira Bhaga, Centering of Strength
Advanced A, or Third series
Advanced B, or Fourth series
Advanced C, or Fifth series
Advanced D, or Sixth series
These asana sequences are believed to have originated from the ancient yogi Vamana Rishi who lived around 500 BC.
Benefits of practising Ashtanga yoga
There are a number of benefits to practising Ashtanga yoga, including the following;
It helps to strengthen and tone muscles.
Regularly practicing asanas in this style of yoga can help you attain a state of meditative flow or “the zone” which is where your mind becomes so focused on executing each pose with precision that it stops thinking about anything else.
Ashtanga yoga also helps to increase flexibility, which is great for helping you avoid muscle soreness and injury.
This style of yoga has also been shown to improve mood by stimulating the nervous system in a beneficial way.
The physical benefits mentioned above are only part of what makes Ashtanga yoga so special; it can also help you attain your spiritual goals
What are the benefits of doing this type of yoga as a man specifically?
Practising Ashtanga yoga offers a number of benefits to men specific. Firstly, it can help you gain strength and muscle definition
Ashtanga yoga has been shown to improve mood by stimulating the nervous system in a beneficial way.
This style of yoga also helps increase flexibility, which is great for avoiding injury.
The physical benefits mentioned above are only part of what makes Ashtanga yoga so special; it can also help you to develop a strong mind that is free of anger, resentment and fear.
When you are practising Ashtanga yoga regularly, it can help to free yourself from negative thoughts and emotions. This has the added benefit for men of increasing sexual strength by helping increase testosterone levels while also reducing cortisol (the stress hormone).
The increased blood flow associated with this type of yoga also helps to keep men’s sex organs healthy and working properly.
Strengthening muscles and improving flexibility are just a few of the benefits that come from Ashtanga yoga. If you’ve been looking for a way to get into shape or simply improve your health, try incorporating this form of yoga into your daily routine and see the results for yourself!