starting ashtanga yoga

Starting Ashtanga Yoga: 7-Day Yoga Practice Plan for Beginners


Do you have plans of starting Ashtanga Yoga but don’t want to pay high premiums to go to the gym or pay a personal instructor? We know the dilemma of spending much on annual gym fees -- without going to the gym. Life gets in the way and it is hard to think about hitting the gym when you have deadline to finish and a boss to please. We know that Yoga is known to promote general healing and flexibility from young to old. While this makes for a good workout exercise, it does not have to be expensive and complicated. 

Why Ashtanga Yoga?

While you have many options to go around from crossfit to cardio exercises, Yoga appeals to a wider demographic since it’s not as complicated. Yoga focuses on ‘you’. It focuses on the union of the mind, body and soul. Despite the various scientific benefits of practicing this exercise, Yoga is more than that. It teaches you a way of life. You can find out more in this post to know why ashtanga yoga is good for you.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

According to Patanjali, Asthanga Yoga is a purification of the self through eight spiritual practices. It’s a dynamic workout that is connected to the breath and your body movements. It’s the spiritual component to Yoga that makes it different from all other workouts. The form of this workout is designed to purify, strengthen core muscles and tone the body.

1. You need to take a basic Yoga class- It’s important to start Ashtanga Yoga classes first before you do it at home. A beginner’s class help you gain experience from Yogis you’ll need before you become one yourself. Yoga is not a competition. Be humble enough to learn and meet your body where it’s at so you can do appropriate body poses later on. 

2. What to bring during class- You’ll need to wear light clothing to keep your body cool and comfortable throughout the exercise. Since some studios have yoga mats for rent, you don’t have to carry your own for the meantime.

3. What to expect during class- It’s best to not place your mat in the exact line as the next one to you to give you ample room to stretch and move.

Before you get started, here are something to take note of...

Typically, you sit cross-legged and do some mild stretching to prep your body before the class starts. You will do a series of breathing exercises first then you will move forward to doing warm-up poses and escalate to more vigorous body poses along the way. After this, you will do some stretching and then final relaxation. You may feel some sore after your first class but this indicates that your exercise has been effective.

After taking a few beginners classes, you will have developed the muscles and stamina for more complex poses.

The goal of this practice plan is to help you get into a routine that delivers the same benefits as you would have in a Yoga class.

Day 1

1. Practice daily stretch routine for about 10-15 minutes

2. Do Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic Tilts

a. Lie flat on your back, knees bent and feet on the mat.

b. Tighten your buttocks and subtly rock your hips upwards with your back still flat on the floor.

c. Hold for about five seconds and repeat the process for about 15 to 20 rounds.

3. Do Cat Cow Stretches

cat cow pose 1
cat cow pose 2

a. Your hands and knees should be on the floor. Knees should be under your hips and your wrist in line with your shoulders. Start with a neutral spine position. Take a deep breath.

b. When you exhale, round your spine upwards and imagine you’re pulling your belly up. Your chin should be tucked towards the chest area and then slowly release your neck to create the ‘cat-shape’.

c. Upon inhalation, arch your back and set your belly on a relaxed position and let loose. Lift your heat up and upwards without placing pressure as you do this. This pose creates the ‘cow-shape’.

d. Repeat the step up to 10 rounds until your back has been warmed up.

4. Do Downward Facing Dog

downward facing dog pose

a. Start with hands and knees on the ground. Your hands should be under your shoulder and knees under your hips.

b. Inch your hands away forward with fingers wide and palms pressing flat on the mat.

c. Slowly curl your toes under and slowly press hips upwards creating an inverted V shape while pressing your shoulders away from the head.

d. Your feet should only be hip-width in distance with knees a little bent.

e. Hold this position for 3 full breaths.

5. Do Lunges


a. Place your right foot forward beside your right hand while your body comes into a low lunge.

b. Drop your knee to the floor to give a good stretch to your hip areas.

c. Keep your leg straight so this exercise can work on your hamstrings.

d. Do this stretch for 2-3 rounds.

6. Do Mountain Pose

mountain pose

a. With feet together and shoulders relaxed, place your weight evenly on soles and arms on the sides.

b. Inhale deeply and slowly raise your hands above with palms facing together while keeping your arms straight. Reach upwards with your fingertips while sliding your shoulders away from your ears.

7. Do Uttanasana


a. Slowly exhale as you do this step of the pose.

b. Release arms on both sides and bend forward like that doing a pre-diving pose (forward bend uttanasana).

c. Put your fingertips in front of your toes.

d. Flatten your palms on the mat. If it’s not doable, tent your fingers in front.

e. Slowly inhale as you do this step of the pose. Lift your head as you go back to ardha uttasana (flat back) position.

f. Place your hands on your lower leg.

Day 2

1. Do the daily stretch routine of about 10 to 15 minutes

2. Do Seated Stretches

Seated Stretches

a. Sit in a Dandasana pose then lean your body back slightly back using your hands. Lift and open legs apart in a 90 degree angle.

b. Press hands flat on the floor and slide your buttocks in forward direction. Widen your legs to another 15 to 20 degrees.

c. Rotate your thighs in an outward direction while pinning the outer thighs on the floor making the knee caps point upwards. Reach towards your heels and stretch the soles.

d. Walk your hands forward in between your legs. Keep arms stretched forward.

e. Keep this pose on every exhalation until you feel comfortable with the stretch happening at the back of your legs. Stay for one minute longer and then move upon inhalation.

Day 3

Do only Daily stretch routine for 10 to 15 minutes (because your muscle need to take rest)

Day 4

1. Do daily stretch routine for 10 to 15 minutes

2. Do standing poses: Modified Mountain Pose

Modified Mountain Pose

a. As you breathe out, place your left foot back (for about 4 feet away) until you’re in a lunge position. Your right ankle should be parallel to your right knee. 

b. Lift your arms upwards where your biceps.

c. Rotate your left foot to about 90 degrees until it faces the left wall. Your heel should be in a perpendicular direction from your right heel.

d. Enlarge your chest and put your shoulders back. Lower your body down as your raise up your hands upwards.

Day 5

Do only daily stretch routine for 10 to 15 minutes.

Day 6

1. Do a daily stretch routine for 10 to 15 minutes

2. Do standing poses (Day 4)

3. Do Seated Stretches: Staff Pose

Staff Pose

a. Sit flat on the floor with your legs extended in front. Your sit bones should be touching the floor as much as possible.

b. Tighten your thigh muscles and flex your feet.

c. Straighten the back and with shoulders in line with the hips. Ideally, your arms should be straight and your palms faced down flat on the floor on both sides to provide support to the spine.

d. Inhale to increase the length of your spine.

e. Do five deep breaths if with legs still tightened if possible.

Day 7

Do only daily stretch routine for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Starting Ashtanga Yoga takes a lot of practice -- and grit. Don’t give up if you don’t get it on the first few tries. You need to perfect your stretching and breathing exercises for you to create a full-on Yoga practice plan. Do not hesitate to try other variations if you feel that your body is ready for it. You can also add more complex variations to your routine if it suits you.

Pro tip: For the remainder of the month, you’ll be doing less daily routine stretching and incorporate longer sequences to build your stamina and endurance. From here, you can add moon salutations and standing balances on your second week, Surya Namaskara B on your third week and Yoga for arms and abs on your fourth week.

Did you enjoy this week’s tutorial? Share us your comments below!

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