Carol's Yoga Page

If you are new to yoga...specifically Ashtanga are some resources

Maybe we met at a class I was teaching, or maybe you just stumbled on this page. Either way, you are welcome to expand your knowledge of Ashtanga Yoga with me. There is so much to learn I will continue to be a student my whole life.  I'm glad to have you walk the path with me!

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New to Ashtanga Yoga?

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Practice with Carol

If you live (or visit) the KC metro and want to practice in person with Carol text 816-213-2340 to arrange a time.

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Are You a DIY-kind-of-person?

Or do you already have a start on an Ashtanga practice?

Click through the tabs below if you are someone who likes a lot of information at once.

If you do better taking it one step at a time, please start with a course found on this page.

I like Ashtanga Yoga because…

  • It is student centered– the student is to memorize a series of poses rather than rely on a teacher to call out which pose to do next
  • I can and do a lot of my yoga practice at home.  The traditional way to learn Ashtanga is to go to a lesson to learn a little more each time and then go home and practice
  • This practice is about the quality of my whole being: body, mind, emotions, spirit
  • This is a healing practice more than a fitness program

read more about Ashtanga Yoga

Asana practice is the 3rd limb of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. It is what most people think of when they think of yoga.  It is the physical practice –the poses.   As you learn the series, pay attentions when to inhale and when to exhale.  There is an “inhale” or “exhale the goes with each movement.  Generally, upward movements are inhales and downward movements are exhales.

The series of poses are to be memorized over time.  You can use a “cheat sheet” as you learn, but keep in mind you are trying to learn the order, so try to remember what is next before you peek at the sheet.

The series is built like a sandwich.  First, you will get two pieces of bread that will always begin and end every practice.  Later you will get the meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard, mayo etc.   The top piece of bread is 1 and 2 on this list. The bottom piece of bread is 3, 4, 5 and 6.  I suggest David Swenson’s book to review the instructions on how to do each of these. (You can find his book used for a very reasonable price.)

  1. Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salute A), 5 in a row
  2. Surya Namaskar B (Sun Salute B), 5 in a row
  3. Yoga Mudra,  8 slow breaths
  4. Padmasana, 10 very deep, slow inhales and exhales.
  5. Tolasana (also called Uplitihi), hold for 10 breaths
  6. Shavasana, rest for 10 or more minutes to end your practice

Click for more resources and videos

Once you have practiced the Surya Namaskars and and can do 5 of each without stopping,  it is time to start building the sandwich. You are ready to learn the Standing poses.  A teacher will tell you how far to go, but generally you will start with the first two or three poses in a lesson to practice for a week.  The next week another one or two poses might be added until eventually you will go from Padangusthasana (forward fold) to Virabhidrasana 2 (Warrior 2).  I’ve listed these poses below in orange.  

Again, it is important to pay attention when to inhale and exhale.  Each of the standing poses is held for 5 “ujjaiyi” breaths. (See links in Resource section.)

You will also begin to add more poses to the closing sequence.  I’ve listed new closing poses in pink.

  1. Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salute A), 5 in a row
  2. Surya Namaskar B (Sun Salute B), 5 in a row
  3. Padangusthasana and Padahastasana
  4. Utthita Tikonasana and Parivritta Trikonasana
  5. Utthita Parshvakonasana and Parivritta Pashvakonasan
  6. Prasarita Padottanasana A,B,C and D
  7. Parshvottanasana
  8. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A,B,C and D
  9. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana
  10. Utkatasana
  11. Virabhadrasana A and B
  12. Bridge Prep sequence
  13. Salamba Sarvangasana
  14. Halasana
  15. Karna Pidansana
  16. Matsyasana (with straight legs)
  17. Shirsasan Prep sequence
  18. Yoga Mudra,  8 slow breaths
  19. Padmasana, 10 very deep, slow inhales and exhales.
  20. Tolasana (also called Uplitihi), hold for 10 breaths
  21. Shavasana, rest for 10 or more minutes to end your practice

When you can add all those parts to the sandwich, it is time to move on.  This will likely take many months of practice both to memorize as well as allow necessary changes in your body to have physical access to further poses.

Click for more resources and videos

After standing poses comes a series of seated poses. Again, you will take these on a little at a time continuing to memorize the sequence as you go.

In the seated poses there is a vinyasa between almost every pose.  I have been calling the practice Ashtanga Yoga, but the full name is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.  “Vinyasa” is basically a Surynamaskar A except you hold down-dog for only one breath and then jump or step forward and sit down. 

In the resource area I have included a link to my favorite cheat sheet for learning where the vinyasas go.

Eventually, you will learn more and more poses and know when to breathe and where to do vinyasas and how to make bandhas. At some point you will have at least tried all the poses.  Maybe you didn’t do them all in one day, but you will at least know, in concept, how each pose is performed.  The series is meant to be done from beginning to end without stopping. 

There is a class called “Primary Led” offered in Ashtanga yoga studios, often on a Saturday morning, that you should have a goal to attend.  You might not do the whole series the first times you go.  It is ok to sit and observe at first if you don’t know what to do or can’t do what is being done.  You can and should always modify poses to fit your body and what you have learned so far when you are in a Primary Led class.

I remember the first time I went all the way through the series in a Primary Led class during teacher training.  My teacher had invited me to practice next to her.  I had injured my left big toenail.  I had to modify a lot to accommodate my toe and my teacher was with me to demonstrate a modification if I needed it. 

At the end of that class, she congratulated me and said, “You did it! Your first time doing the whole Primary series is a big deal!”  At the time, it didn’t seem like a really big deal.  I had built up to it over time.  It had taken me more than two years since my first Ashtanga class.  Looking back, I realize she was right.  It was a day to mark and celebrate.

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Asana, the physical practice of “yoga”, is one of eight limbs of yoga.

Where did these ideas come from?

The ideas and practice of yoga are so ancient that one can only trace it back so far in history.  One of the early written record that was widespread is called the Yoga Sutra which dates back before 400 AD.  There is so much written on the Yoga Sutra, that I feel inadequate to briefly sum it up in my own words (although you can read the short paper I wrote as a final project for my yoga teacher training here) .  Instead, I will point you to resources of people who have studied the Yoga Sutra and encourage you to go read it for yourself.

Read more good stuff about the Yoga Sutras

I started yoga because I was getting older and needed a practice that would give me strength, energy and flexibility.  For years I had a vague sense that yoga would be a good practice for me as a tool to make my mind stronger, although I didn’t know why.

Blog posts that I write about yoga are about the journey on and off the yoga mat and yoga things that may not even seem like yoga to the uninitiated.

Get started with yoga blog posts here

Upcoming Holding Space and Yoga Healing Retreat in Copan Honduras.

In January 2018 I went to Honduras. I had no idea what a healing place this would be.  I led a group in 2019!  We are going again.  Come with us!

February  2021

Details here.

From Carol's Blog

We have transitions every day. An inhale transitions to an exhale.  We transition from asleep to awake in the morning and from awake to asleep every night.  It is so common to transition that you’d think it would be easy.  But for many of us, transitions are hard.  “I can’t fall asleep.” “I can’t wake up.”  And so on.

What is transition?

(read more)