Vinyasa vs Ashtanga Yoga



Many Yoga studios these days offer a wide variety of classes. Non-English words like Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Yin can be mind-boggling and can easily deter someone from giving Yoga a try.

If you would like to read about some other comparisons in Yoga have a look at my blog posts Yin vs Restorative Yoga as well as the post Hatha vs Vinyasa Yoga.

In this blog I’d like to look at the similarities and differences between Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga. In a nutshell, Vinyasa Yoga maintains focus on the flow of the breath as the practitioner moves from one posture or asana to the next in a flow-like sequence. Ashtanga Yoga also uses a flow-like sequence however the sequences are called series, and there are five that the teacher will use in every class.

Vinyasa Yoga
The word Vinyasa means ‘flow’, and it is a dynamic practice meant to make someone strong and flexible. Patience is required to avoid injury and learn how to align movement with the breath. This form of Yoga has become very popular in the West; I think it’s because it has a cardio element to it and you can get to the point of feeling fatigued. Vinyasa Yoga teachers come to class with a lesson plan or choreography prepared that he or she will lead the students through to develop strength and flexibility. The teacher chooses a theme; it may be a focus on a body part, a chakra, or even a disposition such as grateful or generous. The sequence the teacher creates will address the theme of the class.

Ashtanga Yoga
This form of Yoga was developed by Sri Pattabi Jois who essentially took the flow philosophy of Vinyasa Yoga and created five series for practitioners to follow. Each of the series must be practised in a particular sequence. It is considered to be a strong practice that will get you good and sweaty. However, if you are a beginner you will most likely find it hard to keep up and if you have joint concerns be careful to not push yourself too hard. If you like structure and predictability, Ashtanga is for you.

I am a certified Vinyasa Yoga teacher but I still find time to get in some Ashtanga. If you would like to have a one-on-one Vinyasa Yoga session or perhaps a duet session, feel free to contact me below.