There are 6 series or sequences of postures in the ashtanga yoga system. This manual focuses on the primary, or first series, which is known as yoga chikitsa (yoga therapy). It is designed to heal, detoxify, and align the body and mind, particularly the spine.
The sequencing of postures is a science, set up so that each asana provides a necessary foundation for what follows. We always begin with the sun salutations and standing postures to generate heat and connect with the breath. The first half of the primary series (which begins after the standing postures) is mostly forward bends, working the hamstrings, hips, and back. The middle section focuses on flexibility and the third part combines more flexibility with strength postures. The finishing postures are the same regardless of what series you are practicing. They are restorative postures designed for cooling down, balancing out the body, and integrating the effects of the practice.
This is the vinyasa system, a breathing/moving system. Each pose flows into the next using breathing and the bandhas (locks). If you don't have time for the whole series always begin with the sun salutations and standing postures. Work through a portion of the sitting postures and always finish with the corpse pose. If you are having difficulty with any of the postures, modify them to your ability. And keep breathing!
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