ashtanga or vinyasa

Ashtanga Or Vinyasa: Which Yoga Style Is More Suitable For You? 

The two most popular types of yoga are Ashtanga and Vinyasa. The synchronisation of movement and breathing distinguishes Vinyasa yoga, and Ashtanga yoga may be considered the ancestor of today’s many vinyasa yoga variants.

Differentiating between Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga to find the best match might take a lot of work. A common misconception is that one is actually engaging in Ashtanga yoga by practising vinyasa yoga. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, there’s a practice for everyone. You typically do things in the way that yields the greatest overall benefits, which is the most time- and effort-saving and fruitful approach.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Derived from the Sanskrit words “Asha” (eight) and “Anga” (limb or body part), “Ashtanga” embodies the idea of unifying the eight facets of yoga. This form of yoga goes beyond the physical, connecting moral, spiritual, and mental aspects, forming a holistic approach to well-being.

The Eightfold Path: Exploring the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

The core philosophy of Ashtanga Yoga revolves around eight guiding principles, as detailed in the ancient Yoga Sutras by philosopher Patanjali. Below are the critical elements that constitute the eightfold path:

  • Yama: These are the ethical guidelines that govern interactions with others, including nonviolence, honesty, moderation, nonstealing, and nonpossession.
  • Niyama: Personal conduct follows these principles, such as contentment, cleanliness, self-reflection, discipline, and spiritual devotion.
  • Asana: These are the physical postures, enhancing agility, muscle strength, and balance.
  • Pranayama: This involves controlling the breath and vital energy, promoting awareness and mastery over life forces.
  • Pratyahara: This means withdrawing focus from external stimuli to concentrate inward.
  • Dharana: The practice of holding attention on a single object, aiding in mental tranquillity.
  • Dhyana: Meditation, or honing the mind to focus and relax, falls under this category.
  • Samadhi: Realising a unity with all surroundings and acknowledging oneself as part of a greater whole.
ashtanga or vinyasa 1

A Look at Ashtanga Yoga Classes: What to Expect

Ashtanga Yoga offers an invigorating physical practice with a range of sessions tailored to the practitioner’s needs and goals. The common class structures include:

  • Full Primary or Advanced Series: An intense session consisting of around 75 asanas executed in a specific sequence for up to 90 minutes.
  • Half Primary or Intermediate Series: A shorter version suitable for beginners or those seeking a less strenuous approach.
  • Led Class: Guided classes where the instructor leads the sequence, providing verbal cues and counting breaths.
  • Mysore Class or Ashtanga Self-Practice Class: An individualised practice allowing students to proceed at their pace under the instructor’s guidance.
  • Ashtanga Basics: These classes are geared towards new practitioners to learn the essential postures and techniques.
  • Ashtanga Fusion: This blends Ashtanga Yoga with other practices like vinyasa flow and Pilates, providing a unique and engaging experience.

The Multifaceted Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

Committing to Ashtanga Yoga presents various physical and mental rewards:

  • Enhanced Strength and Flexibility: The practice has been found to improve muscle health and flexibility, especially in premenopausal women.
  • Promoting Cardiovascular Health: Its intensity helps elevate heart rate and improve blood circulation.
  • Improved Alignment and Posture: The focus on alignment reduces body stress and risk of injuries, even alleviating chronic back pain.
  • Increased Concentration and Calmness: By synchronising breath and movement, it diminishes stress and sharpens mental focus.
  • Digestive Benefits: Twisting and compressing postures aid the digestive system, offering relief for gastrointestinal issues.
  • Better Sleep Quality: The relaxing effects of the practice enhance sleep.
  • Heightened Self-Awareness and Mindfulness: The union of body, mind, and spirit fostered by Ashtanga Yoga encourages introspection and mindfulness, even aiding in weight loss through mindful eating.

Ashtanga Yoga’s emphasis on harmonising the body’s physical, moral, and spiritual elements provides a profound path to personal growth and well-being. With diverse class structures and a multitude of benefits, it is a practice that appeals to individuals of varying skills and aspirations. Embracing this ancient practice could be a transformative journey towards a more balanced and enriched life.

What Is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa consists of two separate Sanskrit terms. Together, “Vi” and “Nyasa” signify “in a special way” or “to place.” Therefore, Vinyasa yoga would involve a unique placement of flow.

Vinyasa yoga is a type of yoga in which breathing and movement are coordinated. Asanas, or yoga postures, are physically performed in a fluid and continuous sequence in this energising style of yoga. Vinyasa yoga is sometimes called “flow” due to the seamless transitions between asanas. It is a common form of yoga practised nowadays.

A sun salutation sequence is often used to warm students up for the more strenuous poses they’ll be doing later in a vinyasa yoga class. After that, the instructor will guide the students through a series of connected postures through breath and movement, including seated and standing postures, twists, inversions, and backbends. It is not uncommon for a Vinyasa class to be held in a hot room and fairly strenuous physically. It’s a fantastic method for enhancing physical capabilities, mental acuity, and general health. Vinyasa yoga is an excellent practice for developing calmness and self-awareness.

What Benefits Does Vinyasa Yoga Have?

Vinyasa Flow is a well-liked yoga practice that emphasises linking physical activity and breath. Vinyasa yoga may provide the following advantages:

  • Strengthens The Body: Strength and stamina can be developed through the physical practice of Vinyasa yoga, which consists of a series of flowing exercises. It’s a great way to get in shape and tone your muscles.
  • Improves Flexibility: Stretching is an integral part of Vinyasa yoga, which can increase mobility and adaptability. Injury prevention and alleviation of muscle fatigue are two more benefits.
  • Reduces Stress: Vinyasa yoga’s emphasis on breath and movement is known to have a soothing effect. A study indicated that college students’ stress levels decreased over eight weeks.
  • Increases Mindfulness: Vinyasa yoga calls for undivided attention and focus, which fosters self-awareness and sharpens reasoning.
  • Boosts Cardiovascular Health: Vinyasa yoga’s flowing postures are good for your heart since they raise your heart rate and oxygen consumption. The research found that students who took Vinyasa sessions saw improvements in their vascular function.
  • Improves Balance And Coordination: Balanced postures and transitions are common in vinyasa yoga, which can be beneficial for developing better balance and coordination.
  • Promotes Relaxation: Relaxation and meditation at the end of a vinyasa yoga practice have been shown to affect both mental state and sleep quality positively. Vinyasa is beneficial since it offers a full body and mind workout that can boost health and happiness.

How Do Vinyasa And Ashtanga Differ?

Ashtanga Yoga Is A More Systematic Style

Because of the repetitive nature of the Ashtanga yoga sequence, each class is the same. Sun salutations, seated poses, standing poses, and restorative yoga postures round out the practice, which begins with breathing exercises. Every day is the same and consists of the same routine.

Although it may seem repetitive, there is beauty in it. Even if you practise the same series of positions daily, subtle differences in your body, energy, and mood will always present new challenges. If you’re the type of person who thrives on variety, trying out a Vinyasa yoga class could be the perfect fit for you.

Vinyasa Is An Ashtanga Freestyle Form

Ashtanga yoga requires its practitioners to follow a predetermined sequence of postures. Folds forwards are highlighted in the primary series, whereas folds back are highlighted in the intermediate series. The next series, “Advanced,” combines elements of those earlier sequences with additional arm balances. Most people only follow the main series because it is the one that has yet to get too complicated.

Vinyasa yoga workshops may use postures from several schools of Ashtanga yoga, rearranging them in novel ways to make them more approachable. In most cases, this is done by working towards a more advanced pose throughout each session, with the help of the instructor.

Ashtanga Yoga Is Seen As More Difficult

While Ashtanga and Vinyasa flow yoga are more comprehensive, Hatha yoga is more approachable. While holding the challenging Ashtanga yoga poses, each student is also instructed to concentrate on their power locks, breathing, and gazing points, engaging their mind and spirit.

Ashtanga Yoga Can Be Taught In Two Different Ways

When practising Vinyasa yoga, students follow along as an instructor guides them through a series of poses. They may choose only verbally to instruct, or they may choose to physically demonstrate some or all of the postures as well.

Ashtanga yoga can be taught in what is called a led class. Ashtanga yoga can also be taught differently. Mysore classes are where students can learn the Ashtanga yoga postures and breathing techniques that will let them practise the sequence at their own pace.

Vinyasa Classes Allow Props 

Most traditional Ashtanga yoga masters frown upon the usage of props. The most popular pieces of yoga gear are straps,  blocks, and bolsters. This is done to ensure that the ritual remains undisturbed.

But Vinyasa yoga uses supports to help us go deeper into poses or correct improper alignment. By providing structural support, tools can help persons with injuries achieve better alignment or enable practitioners to choose a simpler variant of the posture.

ashtanga or vinyasa 2

What Ashtanga And Vinyasa Classes Have In Common

Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga practice a dynamic, fluid style emphasising synchronising breath with movement. Some commonalities include the following:

Breath: The breath is a significant focus in both Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga. Meditating on one’s breathing is a great way to centre oneself in the here and now. Ujjayi breathing, a deep, rhythmic breathing technique used throughout an Ashtanga practice, is the breath. Breathing methods like Ujjayi, Kapalbhati (breath of fire), and Bhastrika (bellows breath) are used in Vinyasa yoga to help with movement and transitions from position to pose.

Sun Salutations: Sun salutations are often performed at the outset of Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga practices. In a flowing sequence known as a sun salutation, the practitioner moves from a forward fold to a plank to an upward dog to a downward dog. To get the body ready for the rest of the practice, a Sun Salutation is performed.

Sequencing: Both Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes follow a prescribed series of poses that flow seamlessly into one another. Ashtanga always begins and ends with the same position, but Vinyasa sequences might differ depending on the instructor. Using the breath to move fluidly from one pose to the next is central to both traditions.

Physical Intensity: Physically demanding classes are common in both Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles, focusing on developing a range of motion, muscle strength, and stamina. Ashtanga yoga is well-known for its difficult postures, such as arm balances and inversions, whereas Vinyasa yoga is noted for its complex sequences and tricky transitions.

Internal Focus: Classes in both Ashtanga and Vinyasa aim to help students develop an inward gaze and a heightened sense of the here and now. This can be accomplished through the use of meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises), as well as the breath and drishti (gaze).

While Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are not identical, they share many things. They are both great choices for those seeking a physically demanding and mentally stimulating yoga practice.

How To Pick A Yoga Style That’s Right For You

Do you still need to decide if Ashtanga yoga is right for you? If you:

  • love exercising and desire to practise more challenging, rigorous yoga?
  • you are trying to find a spiritual practice to help you have a meaningful spiritual experience.
  • practised yoga in solitary and at one’s own pace.
  • you can improve your ability to concentrate and meditate by practising yoga,
  • embrace the comfort of repetition of the same routines.

You should consider Vinyasa if you:

  • are in decent physical condition but are new to yoga.
  • want to increase your strength and flexibility but need more preparation for Ashtanga yoga’s demanding practises?
  • are looking for a more engaging and interesting sequence.
  • able to attend brief classes.


Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa yoga are two famous types of yoga. Many types of vinyasa yoga are based on Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga tries to bring together the eight parts of yoga, such as yama, niyama, pranayama, pryahara, dharana, dhyana, and sadhi. It has different types of classes, like Full Primary or Advanced Series, Half Primary or Intermediate Series, Led Class, Mysore Class, Ashtanga Basics, and Vinyasa Fusion, that give you a good workout.

Ashtanga yoga has many physical and mental benefits, such as improved strength and flexibility, heart health, better alignment and posture, greater focus and calmness, benefits for the digestive system, better sleep, and more self-awareness and mindfulness. Its different class structures and many benefits make it attractive to people with a wide range of skills and goals.

Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, is a unique flow that combines breathing and movement in a smooth and ongoing order. People like this energising type of yoga because it helps improve physical strength, mental clarity, and overall health. Vinyasa Flow is a popular type of yoga that focuses on linking physical movement and breathing. It has many benefits, such as making the body stronger, more flexible, less stressed, more mindful, better for the heart, better for balance and coordination, and more relaxing.

In conclusion, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga offer a wide range of practices that meet different wants and goals. By doing Ashtanga Yoga, people can go on a trip that changes them and makes their lives more balanced and full.

Ashtanga yoga is more organised and has a series of poses that are done over and over again. These poses include sun salutations, sitting poses, standing poses, and restorative poses. This practice is harder than the type of yoga called Vinyasa, which is more flexible. In Vinyasa yoga workshops, poses from different schools of Ashtanga yoga may be rearranged in new ways to make them easier to learn.

Ashtanga yoga can be taught in two different ways: led classes or Mysore classes, where students can learn the poses and breathing methods at their own pace. In Ashtanga yoga, props are not allowed, but in Vinyasa yoga, they are used to strengthen poses or fix bad alignment.

Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga have a lively, flowing style that focuses on moving in time with your breath. Breathing, sun salutations, sequencing, physical intensity, and mental focus are all things that they have in common. Both styles pay a lot of attention to the breath, and sun salutations are often done at the start of the practice.

To choose the right type of yoga for you, think about your interests, physical condition, desire for a challenging and mentally stimulating practice, and ability to attend short classes.

Content Summary

  • Ashtanga and Vinyasa are the two most popular types of yoga, each with distinct characteristics.
  • Vinyasa yoga is known for synchronising movement with breathing, forming a unique flow.
  • Ashtanga yoga is considered the predecessor of many modern vinyasa yoga variations.
  • There’s a common misconception that practising Vinyasa yoga means engaging in Ashtanga yoga.
  • Ashtanga yoga is a term derived from the Sanskrit words “Asha” and “Anga,” representing a unity of eight facets of yoga.
  • Ashtanga yoga’s philosophy revolves around eight guiding principles, forming a holistic approach to well-being.
  • The eightfold path in Ashtanga yoga consists of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
  • Ashtanga classes offer a tailored experience, with different types such as Full Primary Series, Half Primary Series, Led Class, and Mysore Class.
  • Ashtanga Fusion combines traditional practices with vinyasa flow and Pilates.
  • Benefits of Ashtanga include enhanced strength, cardiovascular health, improved alignment, concentration, digestive benefits, better sleep quality, and heightened self-awareness.
  • Vinyasa Yoga involves a special placement of flow, coordinating breathing and movement.
  • The fluid sequence of postures in Vinyasa yoga is sometimes referred to as “flow.”
  • Vinyasa yoga classes often begin with a sun salutation sequence to warm up the students.
  • Vinyasa classes can be held in a hot room, adding to the physical challenge.
  • Vinyasa yoga offers benefits such as strength building, flexibility improvement, stress reduction, increased mindfulness, cardiovascular health, balance and coordination, and relaxation.
  • Ashtanga yoga is more systematic, with a repetitive nature, offering beauty in its consistency.
  • Vinyasa is considered an Ashtanga freestyle form, rearranging postures from Ashtanga.
  • Ashtanga yoga is often seen as more difficult due to the challenging poses and mental engagement.
  • Vinyasa yoga allows the use of props, unlike traditional Ashtanga, to assist with alignment and depth.
  • Ashtanga and Vinyasa share commonalities like emphasis on breath, sun salutations, sequencing, physical intensity, and internal focus.
  • Ashtanga and Vinyasa are suitable for those seeking a challenging and mentally stimulating practice.
  • The term “Vinyasa” signifies “in a special way” or “to place” in Sanskrit.
  • Ashtanga Yoga’s Eightfold Path was detailed in the ancient Yoga Sutras by philosopher Patanjali.
  • Ashtanga classes like the Full Primary Series consist of around 75 asanas executed in specific sequences.
  • Ashtanga Yoga fosters introspection and mindfulness, even aiding in weight loss through mindful eating.
  • Vinyasa yoga includes elements like twists, inversions, and backbends in its sequences.
  • Ashtanga yoga can be taught in two different ways, through led classes or Mysore classes.
  • Vinyasa’s flowing postures can enhance heart rate and oxygen consumption, improving vascular function.
  • Ashtanga yoga places focus on alignment, reducing body stress and injury risk.
  • In Vinyasa yoga, relaxation and meditation at the end of practice positively affect mental state and sleep quality.
  • Vinyasa yoga may rearrange Ashtanga’s postures in innovative ways to make them more approachable.
  • Ashtanga yoga requires focus on power locks, breathing, and gazing points, engaging mind and spirit.
  • Tools like straps, blocks, and bolsters are often used in Vinyasa to assist with poses, which is not common in Ashtanga.
  • Sun salutations are performed at the beginning of both Ashtanga and Vinyasa practices to prepare the body.
  • Both Ashtanga and Vinyasa are physically demanding, focusing on developing motion, muscle strength, and stamina.
  • The practice of Ashtanga yoga has been found to improve muscle health, especially in premenopausal women.
  • Both Ashtanga and Vinyasa use breathing techniques like Ujjayi, Kapalbhati, and Bhastrika.
  • Practising Ashtanga yoga appeals to individuals who thrive on routine and repetition.
  • Vinyasa yoga is suitable for those in good physical condition and seeking an engaging sequence.
  • Ashtanga yoga emphasizes harmonising the body’s physical, moral, and spiritual elements.
  • Vinyasa yoga fosters self-awareness and sharpens reasoning through undivided attention and focus.
  • If you are new to yoga and want to increase strength and flexibility, Vinyasa could be a fit for you.
  • The relaxing effects of Ashtanga yoga are known to enhance sleep quality.
  • Traditional Ashtanga masters often frown upon the use of props to maintain the purity of the practice.
  • Vinyasa yoga is great for toning muscles through its series of flowing exercises.
  • Twisting and compressing postures in Ashtanga aid the digestive system, offering relief for gastrointestinal issues.
  • Those seeking a spiritual practice to have a meaningful spiritual experience may consider Ashtanga yoga.
  • Ashtanga’s practice is well-known for its difficult postures, like arm balances and inversions.
  • Vinyasa yoga uses supports to help deepen poses or correct alignment, adapting to individuals’ needs.
  • Both Ashtanga and Vinyasa aim to help students develop an inward gaze and sense of the present moment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Fit With Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga is great for building strength in the arms, wrists, legs and core. Because of the repetition of the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) and the constant Vinyasas, the whole practice is a dynamic, flowing sequence that makes you stronger and more flexible.

Who Should Not Do Ashtanga Yoga?

People with Trauma and anxiety need to avoid this pose. This pose requires balancing and energy, contrary to the lethargy in such people. Others: Pregnant women should avoid the practice of Ashtanga Namaskar since there is too much pressure in the abdominal area with the active use of the pelvic floor muscles.

Is Ashtanga Suitable For Beginners?

Can beginners do Ashtanga yoga? It is one of the most asked questions. This is a question I often get asked about Ashtanga yoga. The short answer is yes; as taught in Mysore, Ashtanga yoga is a great way to learn any yoga.

Why Vinyasa Yoga Is Good For You?

Vinyasa yoga incorporates a variety of poses that engage and strengthen your core muscles. Moving through a complicated sequence of side bends, backbends, and twists uses your body weight to build core strength and will improve stability, power and balance.

Is Vinyasa Good For Flexibility?

Vinyasa yoga moves your muscles through various poses in different directions and ranges of motion, naturally increasing their flexibility. The more pliable your muscles are, the more you’ll be able to make your workouts more effective and reduce your risk of injury and pain.