Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series


Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India, is a codifier of Ashtanga yoga based on eight-limbs of Patanjali Yoga Sutras. A physically demanding and mentally stimulating practice involving the performance of defined yoga movements closely linked with the breath. A great practice that tones your muscles, increases your flexibility and enhances awareness of one’s potential. The Ashtanga yoga consists of six series: primary, intermediate and four advanced series, each of which involves standing postures, sitting yoga asanas and finishing sequence.

Primary Series:

Ashtanga Primary series or ’ yoga chikitsa’ is a basic series that can be practiced by beginners. Primary series functions therapeutically in clearing the blocked channels for smooth flow of prana, detoxifying the nervous system while granting robustness, pliancy, and vigor. On a mental level, practitioners experience better focus, improved confidence, and greater mind-body awareness.

Here is a list of yoga postures practiced in the Ashtanga yoga primary series:

Standing Postures:

1. Hand to Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana): Stand tall on a yoga mat and spread your feet 4-6 inches apart. Inhale, raise your arms overhead. Breathe out; bend forward at the hips and bring your hands to the floor. Grab hold your toes with your fingers and rest your forehead on your thighs.

Hand to Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)


2. Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana): Stand upright on a yoga mat with arms by your side. Bend your right knee and pull it closer to your chest. Slowly, extend your right leg in front and simultaneously stretch your right arm out. Loop your fingers around the toe of the right foot and place your left hand on your left hip. Repeat the same on the opposite side.

Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

3. Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana: Begin in a mountain pose. Upon exhalation; spread your legs 3-4 feet apart. Slightly turn your left foot inward and right foot outward. Bend your right knee to 90-degree angle. Twist your torso to the right. Extend your arms out parallel to the ground.

Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana


4. Wide-legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana: Stand on a floor with a feet hip-distance apart and weight evenly distributed over them. Widen your legs 3-5 inches apart with hands on your hips. Upon exhalation; bow towards the floor at your waist. Keep your neck relaxed and rest your palms on the floor.

Wide-legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana


Sitting Postures:

1. Head to Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana): Sit on the ground with stretched legs and hands on the floor. Bend your left leg and locate the sole on the inner edge of the right thigh. Exhale; hinge forward at the hips draping your torso over your right leg. Hold the right foot with your hands. Rest your head and nose on the leg.

Head to Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)

2. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana): Begin in a staff pose with legs straight in front of you. Fold your knees, hold your heels with your hands and pull them closer to your pelvic bone. Touch the soles of your feet together. Grasp your palms around your feet and interlock your fingers. Keep your spine erect.

Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

3. Seated forward fold pose (Paschimottanasana): Sit upright on a yoga mat with stretched legs and toes flexed. Roll your shoulder blades back and breathe in. Uplift your hands up above and upon exhalation lean forward and bring your hands towards your feet. Grab your feet with your palms and rest your head, chest over the thighs.

Seated forward fold pose (Paschimottanasana)

4. Boat Pose (Navasana): Sit on a yoga mat with bent knees and hands behind your hips. Press your palms into the floor and lift your toes up and above the floor. Keep your shins parallel to the ground and flex your toes. Gently, straighten your legs and raise them up high. Extend your arms out to the side.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

Closing Postures:

1. Plow Pose (Halasana): Lie on a floor with bent knees and arms by your side. Bring your knees close to your chest. Press your arms into the floor and lift your posterior off the mat. Support your lower back with hands. Leisurely stretch your legs and lower your feet towards the ground and place them behind your head. Make sure your neck is relaxed.

Plow Pose (Halasana)

2. Corpse Pose or Savasana: Lie on your back, spread your legs 2-3 inches apart and rest your arms by your side. Close your eyes; take deep breaths and relax your whole body.

Corpse Pose or Savasana

Ashtanga yoga beginners can practice this primary series for enhanced goodness and well-being.