Barcelona has an ever growing and thriving yoga scene and it can be hard to decide what is the right style and class for you. If you are looking for a holistic yoga practice which encompasses both working up a sweat and finding a sense inner peace and connectedness, then an Ashtanga yoga class is probably the place to go.
Barcelona has many Ashtanga classes, and while they may differ in some respects, all are firmly based on the same eight limbs (‘ashta’ = eight and ‘anga’= limb in Sanskrit) which were first set out in the Yoa Sutris of Patanjali who lived between 500 and 200BC. These ‘limbs’ are essentially eight steps which define and codify yoga and form the foundation for many forms of yoga that have become popular in the West. Ashtanga yoga utilises all eight limbs. So, as well as postures and breath control, it taps into our integrity, self-discipline, inner-connectedness, concentration, meditation and enlightenment.
In a nutshell, Ashtanga yoga involves a progressive series of fluidly connected postures, all meticulously synchronized with the breath. The sweat produced through this process is said to detoxify and purify the muscles and organs, resulting in improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. What more could you ask for!
An Ashtanga class starts typically starts with an opening sequence (Sun Salutations and asanas) and then moves on to one of the six series of postures. Ashtanga classes also traditionally have both an opening and closing chant.
The Primary series is called Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga for Health or Yoga Therapy). The Intermediate, or second, series is known as Nadi Shodhana (The Nerve Purifier). Then there are four Advanced Series (known as Sthira Bhaga: Centering of Strength).
Newcomers will practice the Primary series, which is also the most important as it forms the basis of the entire Ashtanga system. From here it is possible to progress through to the more difficult series. This can be over a period of years or even decades. However it is not the main goal of Ashtanga to master all the series. Rather the goal is to maintain internal focus throughout the practice of any sequence. Daily or regular practice is highly encouraged in Ashtanga.
That the sequences are always the same is what makes Ashtanga a consistent style of yoga, and easier to practice on a regular basis in your own time outside of the class as you perfect and memorise the sequences.
There are two types of Ashtanga classes: Mysore classes and Guided classes.
In a Mysore style class, you essentially benefit from private instruction while in a group class. In this supervised, self-led style of practice each student moves through the practice at his or her own pace and level, as directed by the instructor who moves around the class giving guidance to individual students.
Barcelona Ashtanga offers classes in the Mysore style. The sequences are practiced in silence, each person moving at the rhythm of their breath, while the teacher moves around guiding each student at a pace that is appropriate for them. This provides students with the opportunity to progress to different level as the teacher helps them work on more advanced postures.
This approach is also perfect for beginners, because a student can work at their own pace without being concerned with trying to keep up with a group. A beginner student can expect their first day of practice to last only about 30-45 minutes.
Ashtanga Yoga Shala Barcelona offers Mysore classes, as well as a Beginner’s course once every month. They also organise yoga retreats and workshops. See the website for details.
In the guided format, the group class is more like what you would expect from a typical yoga class. The entire room is moving and practicing the same poses at the same time, following the guidance of the teacher. As such the pace of the class is faster and more rigorous and recommended for students with previous yoga experience.
Barcelona Ashtanga also offer guided classes. Find more information on the website.
You can also find their opening and closing chants on the website – so you can go prepared to your class!