The Fundamental Asana of Ashtanga Yoga

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Maria Villella

These asana are performed after Surya Namaskara A and B, and before a series (Primary, Intermediate, Advanced). When practicing Intermediate and Advanced Series, Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana are usually omitted.

The Fundamental Asana

  1. Padangusthasana: 3 vinyasas
  2. Padahastasana: 3 vinyasas
  3. Utthita Trikonasana A and B: 5 vinyasas
  4. Utthita Parsvakonasana A and B: 5 vinyasas
  5. Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C and D: 4-5 vinyasas
  6. Parsvottanasana: 5 vinyasas
  7. Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana: 14 vinyasas
  8. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana: 9 vinyasas

The Fundamental Asana are performed with Full Vinyasa, each asana beginning at the first vinyasa. The postures that follow are performed as a series, usually with the first six vinyasas of each asana omitted.

The Vinyasas of the Fundamental Asana

The first two asana, Padangusthasana and Padahastasana have three vinyasas and the second vinyasa is held for five breaths.

Padangusthasana:
~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Jump your feet hip width apart. Fold forward and grab your big toes with your thumb, index and middle finger. Inhale, lift your head up straighten your arms.
  2. Exhale, fold forward with your head between your knees and elbows out to the side. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale, head up and straighten your arms. Exhale.

Padahastasana:

  1. Place your hands under your feet, palms up and the tips of your fingers towards your heels. Inhale, lift your head up straighten your arms.
  2. Exhale, fold forward with your head between your knees and elbows out to the side. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale, head up and straighten your arms. Exhale and release your hands from under your feet and put them on your hips. Inhale and come up to standing and jump your feet together back together.

~ Samasthiti ~

Trikonasana and Parsvakonasana have five vinyasas with the second and fourth vinyasa held for five breaths. There is a ‘B’ version to this pair of ‘angle’ postures. The ‘B’ versions are also called ‘Parivritta’ which means revolved or twisting.

Utthita Trikonasana A and B:
~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Inhale. Jump to your right, arms spread to the side.
  2. Trikonasana on the right side. Turn your right foot out. Exhale, lean down and grab your big toe. Gaze up at your fingertips. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Release your big toe inhale and come up. Parallel your feet and arms spread to the side.
  4. Trikonasana on the left side. Turn your left foot out. Exhale, lean down and grab your big toe. Gaze up at your fingertips. Hold for five breaths.
  5. Release your big toe inhale and come up. Parallel your feet and spread your arms to the side. Begin Trikonasana B (without returning to Samasthiti)…
  6. The vinyasa count for Trikonasana B begins at 2.

  1. Trikonasana B on the right side. Turn your right foot out, square your hips to face to the right and with an exhale place your LEFT hand flat on the floor on the outside of your right foot. Gaze at your fingertips and hold for five breaths.
  2. Inhale, come and parallel your feet with your arms spread to the side.
  3. Trikonasana B on the left side. Turn your left foot out, square your hips to face to the left and with an exhale place your RIGHT hand flat on the floor on the outside of your left foot. Gaze at your fingertips and hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale come up and parallel your feet with your arms spread to the side. Jump back to the front of your mat with your feet together and return to…

~ Samasthiti ~

Utthita Parsvakonasana A and B:
~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Inhale. Jump to your right feet wider than Trikonasana, arms spread to the side.
  2. Parsvakonasana on the right side. Turn your right foot out. Exhale, bend your right leg to a right angle and place your right hand on the outside of your right foot. Extend your left arm along side your ear. Gaze at your fingertips. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale and come up. Parallel your feet and arms spread to the side.
  4. Parsvakonasana on the left side. Turn your left foot out. Exhale, bend your left leg to a right angle and place your left hand on the outside of your left foot. Extend your right arm along side your ear. Gaze at your fingertips. Hold for five breaths.
  5. Inhale and come up. Parallel your feet and spread your arms to the side. Begin Parsvakonasana B (without returning to Samasthiti)…
  6. The vinyasa count for Parsvakonasana B begins at 2.

  1. Parsvakonasana B on the right side. Turn your right foot out, exhale and bend your right leg to a right angle. Twist and tuck your LEFT shoulder blade on the outside of your right thigh. Place your left hand flat on the floor on the outside of your foot. Extend your right arm along side your ear. Gaze at your fingertips and hold for five breaths.
  2. Inhale, come and parallel your feet with your arms spread to the side.
  3. Parsvakonasana B on the left side. Turn your left foot out, exhale and bend your left leg to a right angle. Twist and tuck your RIGHT shoulder blade on the outdise of your left thigh. Place your right hand flat on the floor on the outside of your foot. Extend your right arm along side your ear and hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale come up and parallel your feet with your arms spread to the side. Jump back to the front of your mat with your feet together and return to…

~ Samasthiti ~

The vinyasas for Prasarita Padottanasana are a bit more complicated. Performed as a sequence (A,B, C and D), Prasarita Padottanasana A and D have five vinyasas, B and C have four vinyasas. In all variations (A through D) of Prasarita Padottanasana the third vinyasa is held for five breaths. The first vinyasa for variations A and D start with the hands on the hips, whereas for variations B and C, the first vinyasa has the arms spread open to the sides. The second vinyasa is unusual in that there is both an exhale and an inhale.

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C and D:
~ Samasthiti ~
Variation A:

  1. Inhale. Jump to your right feet wide as in Utthita Parsvakonasana. Place your hands on your hips.
  2. Exhale, fold forward and place your palms flat on the floor shoulder width apart and fingertips in line with your toes. Inhale, straighten your arms and lift your head up.
  3. Exhale, bend your arms and place the top of your head on the floor. Hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale, straighten your arms lift your head, leaving your palms flat on the floor. Exhale.
  5. Inhale, come up and place your hands on your hips.
    Exhale.

Variation B:

  1. Inhale, spread your arms to the side.
  2. Exhale and place your hands on your hips. Inhale and look up.
  3. Exhale, fold forward and place the top of your head on the floor. Hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale come all the way up.
    Exhale.

Variation C:

  1. Inhale spread your arms to the side.
  2. Exhale and interlace your fingers with your arms straight behind your back. Inhale and look up.
  3. Exhale, place the top of your head on the floor. Hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale and come all the way up. Exhale and place your arms on your hips.
    Exhale.

Variation D:

  1. Inhale, look up.
  2. Exhale. Fold forward and grab your big toes. Inhale, lift your head and straighten your arms.
  3. Exhale and place the top of your head on the floor. Hold for five breaths.
  4. Inhale lift your head and straighten your arms. Exhale.
  5. Inhale release your big toes and come all the way up. Place your hands on your hips. Jump back to the front of your mat with your feet together and return to…

~ Samasthiti ~

Parsvottanasana:

~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Jump to your right. Turn your right foot out, square your hips to face the right and place your hands behind your back in ‘namaste’ position. Inhale and look up.
  2. Exhale and fold forward with your chin on your shin and gaze at the tip of your nose. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale come up and parallel your feet.
  4. Turn to the left. Square your hips to face the left. Exhale and fold forward. Chin to the shin and gaze at the tip of your nose. Hold for five breaths.
  5. Inhale come up and parallel your feet. Jump back to the front of your mat and return to…

~ Samasthiti ~

Above: Maria Villella demonstrates part of the Fundamental (Standing) Asana

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana:
~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Inhale. Place your left hand on your hip and extend your right arm straight in front of you. Lift your right leg up and grab your big toe with your right hand.
  2. Exhale and fold forward while lifting your right leg as high as possible, touching your nose to your knee or chin to shin. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale and straighten up and return to the same position as the first vinyasa.
  4. Exhale and turn your head to look to the left while bringing your right leg all the way to your right. Hold for five breaths
  5. Inhale and return to the same position as the first vinyasa facing forward.
  6. Exhale and fold forward to touch your chin to your shin or nose to knee.
  7. Inhale and straighten up, release your leg and place your right hand on your hip. Hold your right leg extended and straight for five breaths. Exhale and lower your leg to the floor.

Repeat on the left side for vinyasas 8-14 and then return to…
~ Samasthiti ~

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana:
~ Samasthiti ~

  1. Inhale. Right leg goes into half lotus position and the right arm circles behind your back to grab the right big toe.
  2. Exhale and fold forward. Left hand to the floor inline with your toes. Nose to knee or chin to shin. Hold for five breaths.
  3. Inhale, head up and straighten your left arm. Exhale.
  4. Inhale and return to standing. Place your left hand on your left hip.
  5. Exhale and release your right leg back to the floor.

Repeat on the left side for vinyasas 6-9 and then return to…
~ Samasthiti ~

Tips for Memorizing the Fundamental Asana Sequence

You can’t truly enjoy the practice until you’ve gotten past the hurdle of memorizing the sequence you’re practicing. The asana are like musical notes in a song. If you don’t play the notes in the right order, the song won’t be recognizable. If you don’t commit the notes to memory, you won’t be able to focus on the more essential aspects. In Ashtanga, the essentials are the breath, dristhi and bandhas.

If you forget a asana in a particular part of a sequence, I would suggest that you stop, go all the way back to the posture that you omitted and start from there. Repeating the rest of the sequence, just as you would if you left out a note in a song.

The Fundamental Asana follow a pattern which can be helpful when memorizing this sequence:

  • A Pair of Standing Forward Bending postures
  • A Pair of Standing ‘Angle’ postures.
  • A ‘Wide’ footed posture with four variations
  • A Standing Forward bend
  • A pair of balance postures.
The Fundamental Asana of Ashtanga Yoga, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
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Related posts:

  1. The Primary Asana of Ashtanga Yoga
  2. The Finishing Asana of Ashtanga
  3. Surya Namaskara
  4. What is Vinyasa?
  5. What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Comments

  1. Mindy says:

    I love these videos, and I see stated frequently that there is to be a DVD coming soon with Maria Villella . I would like to know when that DVD will be available; I would very much like to purchase it.

    I have been partial to Sivananda, but have tried Ashtanga several times and am drawn to it as well. I have not the pull for teachers as many larger cities, so DVD will be my only connection to Ashtanga.

    Namaste’

    • admin says:

      Hi Mindy,

      I PROMISE you that the DVD and/or Digital Download will be available by December 2010 or sooner! The video clips you’ve seen here and on youtube are rough cuts of footage with an intermediate sound track. We just recorded the final soundtrack and we are editing the sound now.

      Thank you for your patience, and I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to help connect people to Ashtanga Yoga!

      Namaste’

      Charles James

  2. Kawai says:

    Just want to say I look forward to the DVD, Maria is amazingly graceful.

    Kawai,

    • kimjames says:

      Great to hear from you. We are still working to get a DVD or Digital Download out as soon as we can. Reading all the positive comments really helps. Hope to be able to give you some good news soon.

  3. admin says:

    The full video is finally available as a Digital Download!

    http://yogiclife.com/store/ashtanga-yoga-primary-series-with-maria-villella/

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