5 Keys to Ashtanga Yoga

It can seem challenging to narrow anything down to five key points, especially something with as much depth as the Ashtanga system of yoga. But when I take a step back to look at the practice, it all becomes remarkably clear. The keys aren’t about any one thing in particular—not the body, not the mind, not the spirit; rather, like Ashtanga itself, they’re about all three. They’re about opening the door, about creating the ideal circumstances for your practice to work for you and your life, about holding space for yourself. They aren’t always easy, but they’re undeniably simple. And they start, as all things do, with the breath.

  1. Breath. Without the breath, we have no Ashtanga. When the breath stops, the yoga stops. Ideally, as you move through your Ashtanga practice, the duration of the breaths are equal—this supports equanimity on and off the mat. That said, maintaining equal breath throughout a practice can be difficult to achieve. One...
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