Giving Ashtanga Yoga a shot

One of my goals for the month of May is to stretch more. We’re just about a week into the month, and so far I’m doing fine in that department.

Last week, I went to a Vinyasa Yoga class and did a few stretching sequences at home. And earlier this week, I tried a new-to-me style of yoga.

Trying a new yoga class

On Monday, I attended lunch-time Ashtanga Yoga at the Bay Club San Francisco. As a group fitness instructor for Bay Clubs, I can attend classes for free, so I like to sample as much as possible. Bay Club San Francisco is a large wellness center along the Embarcadero, and there’s a room devoted to practicing yoga with high ceilings and plenty of space to spread out.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

If you’re new to yoga, you may not want to start with Ashtanga Yoga. I’m an intermediate yogi at best, and I felt Ashtanga Yoga was on the challenging end of the yoga spectrum. (However, not nearly as challenging as Bikram Yoga, which is essentially 90 minutes of heated torture.)

Ashtanga is a Vinyasa form of yoga, meaning you smoothly flow from posture-to-posture while inhaling and exhaling.

All you need to practice is a yoga mat. You can use a block to help hold some postures if you can’t reach the floor, but I didn’t use one.

The class was 60-minutes in length and consisted of countless sun salutations, a few standing poses and ended with some challenging postures in the finishing sequence.

What is different about Ashtanga Yoga?

What I found as different about Ashtanga Yoga is that every single breath you take is supposed to coincide with one movement. Therefore, the instructor encouraged us to get directly into each new pose within the time it took to take a breath. That was a little fast, especially when attempting more challenging poses, such as one-leg balances.

The other thing that seemed to stand out was the repeating of sequences. The instructor told us that there was a formula for each class, and the Ashtanga practice calls for performing poses in a specific order with specific repetitions. I did a little research, and the progression of movements is quite detailed, and you can read more about here. That leads me to believe that nearly every Ashtanga Yoga class you take no matter which studio, would be about the same.

It got pretty advanced at times.

In fact, my neighbor yogi, who appeared to be a regular and even owned her own mat, was able to pop up into a perfect headstand, but I stuck with the shoulder-stand option. I did, however, push myself to do six wheel poses in a row (that’s a full backbend), and therefore ended that sequence huffing and puffing.

Ashtanga Yoga cons:

  • There was no music.
  • Set-up for each posture was too quick for my liking.
  • The final meditation was too short.
  • It seemed somewhat systematic and dry.

Ashtanga Yoga pros:

  • The instructor was very good.
  • I felt challenged by the postures, and I worked up a sweat.
  • The fast-paced progression made it go by very quickly.

I wouldn’t say Ashtanga is my favorite style of yoga. Nonetheless, I went, I saw, and I stretched. Mission complete.

It’s yoga month over at FitFluential, a community of fitness lovers. In honor of that, here’s my contribution, showing one of my favorite poses to stretch the legs and feet.

Ashley Pitt Hero Pose

Other yoga reviews

For more of my thoughts on other styles of yoga, check out the following reviews:

It’s Wednesday, so that means I’ll be teaching an early BODYPUMP class and attending some training for my new job. And Dave and I have a mid-week shopping trip tonight to prepare for some exciting weekend plans. More to come on that soon …

Questions of the day

Do you enjoy yoga? What’s your favorite style of yoga?

How’s your week going so far?

Ashley signature




  1. A friend was telling me about Ashtanga yoga, but I still wasn’t clear on how it varied from vinyasa. Great post, thanks for clearing that up!

  2. Loved this post! I’m an avid yogi, but only attend my studio’s Vinyasa flow classes. After reading your post I definitely want to check out Ashtanga now! Keep up the great informative posts :).

  3. Great review! I’ve never attended a yoga class, at my local gym they have a class called “body flow” which I did try out twice….in the end I did not like it because it seemed too easy. The moves were not challenging enough and I did not even work up a sweat. Now I practice yoga at home, more so in a stretching sequence & that can really work up a sweat!! 😉

    1. Yes, BODYFLOW is another Les Mills program, and you may have felt it was easier because I believe it’s a hybrid of yoga, pilates and even some tai chi, which is obviously much less impact. It’s good for the mind though. 🙂

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