The primary series of postures in Ashtanga are referred to as the Yoga Chikitsa. The word Chikitsa means therapy. This series works on realigning the spine, detoxifying the body, building stamina and improving flexibility. The Ashtanga primary series leads the yogi through a session of about an hour and a half to two hours and consists of about 75 poses. It entirely depends on the instructor as to the number of postures that are utilized in class.
Yoga Chikitsa begins with surya namaskara or sun salutation. The sun salutations are done in order to purify the body and restore health, before progressing to other poses. There are two types of sun salutations referred to as surya namaskara A and B. This entails a process of going through 18 different postures to prepare the body for the next series of asana or positions.
After surya namaskara, the primary series proceeds to standing poses. These lead the yogi through a sequence of postures that require flexibility but it also prepares for the harder steps that follow in the seated version of the Chikitsa. A few of the positions are listed below:Big toe pose
Hands under feet
Extended side angle
Revolved side angle
Wide leg forward fold
Hands on floor
Hands on waist
Hands clasped behind
Hands grabs big toes
Side Intense stretchExtended hand to big toeHalf bound lotusWarrior
Next Chikitsa continues to the seated poses, inversions and backbends. These are considerably harder to manage than the standing ones and involve a lot of coordination and concentration. A few of the seated postures are as below:
West intense stretch
East intense stretch
Half bound lotus
Head to knee pose
Arm pressure pose
Embryo in womb
Wide angle seated fold
Bride building pose
These then lead to a few relaxation poses including the upward bow, intense stretch and the corpse before starting the shoulder stands, which include: Supported limb
Intense feet and leg stretch
Lifting from the headstand
The Yoga therapy is concluded by a pose called the Corpse. The corpse as the name states is where the yogi is so relaxed that all his or her limbs and body reach a level of tranquility equivalent to that of a corpse.
Chikitsa is supposed to be the most challenging form of Ashtanga. This is due to the fact that this series is for the beginners and it entails a long and strenuous workout. Many people find it difficult when they begin taking yoga classes. However, with the right instructor to lead you through the primary series, it proves to be fun as well as a healthy and vigorous workout session along with providing mental and physical relaxation.
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