Exploring the Sacred Journey: A Guide to the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Practice

The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, also known as Yoga Chikitsa or Yoga Therapy, is the foundational sequence of postures in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition.

Developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the Primary Series is designed to purify the body, calm the mind, and prepare the practitioner for deeper levels of practice.

In this article, we will embark on a journey through the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, exploring its sequence, principles, and transformative effects on body, mind, and spirit.

Understanding the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

The Primary Series consists of a specific sequence of postures (asanas) linked together with breath-linked movement (vinyasa) and internal energy locks (bandhas).

The sequence is designed to systematically purify and strengthen the body, balance the nervous system, and awaken the subtle energy channels (nadis) within the body.

The Primary Series begins with Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) A and B, followed by a series of standing poses, seated poses, and finishing postures.

Sequence of the Primary Series:

  1. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) A and B: The practice begins with five rounds of Sun Salutation A, followed by five rounds of Sun Salutation B. These dynamic sequences warm up the body, synchronize movement with breath, and establish a meditative rhythm for the practice.
  2. Standing Poses: The Primary Series includes a variety of standing poses, such as Forward Fold (Uttanasana), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), and Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana), which build strength, stability, and flexibility in the legs, hips, and spine.
  3. Seated Poses: The seated sequence comprises a series of forward bends, twists, and stretches, including Janu Sirsasana, Marichyasana, and Paschimottanasana, which target the hips, hamstrings, spine, and internal organs.
  4. Finishing Poses: The practice concludes with a series of inversions, backbends, and closing postures, such as Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), Headstand (Sirsasana), and Lotus Pose (Padmasana), which promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and integration of the practice.

Principles of the Primary Series Practice

The Primary Series is guided by several key principles that distinguish it from other styles of yoga practice:

  • Breath-Centered Movement: Each movement in the Primary Series is synchronized with the breath, creating a seamless flow of energy and awareness throughout the practice.
  • Dynamic Sequencing: The sequence of postures is carefully structured to systematically stretch, strengthen, and balance the entire body, promoting holistic well-being and vitality.
  • Internal Energy Locks (Bandhas): Practitioners engage internal energy locks, such as Mula Bandha (Root Lock) and Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal Lock), to channel and direct the flow of energy within the body, enhancing stability, alignment, and energetic awareness.
  • Focused Attention: The Primary Series cultivates focused attention and mindfulness by encouraging practitioners to stay present with their breath, body, and sensations throughout the practice, fostering a meditative state of awareness.

Benefits of the Primary Series Practice

The regular practice of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series offers numerous benefits for both body and mind, including:

  • Improved Strength and Flexibility: The dynamic sequence of postures strengthens and stretches the muscles, joints, and connective tissues, promoting overall strength, flexibility, and mobility.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus: The focused attention and mindfulness cultivated in the Primary Series practice sharpen mental clarity, concentration, and awareness, reducing stress and enhancing cognitive function.
  • Balanced Nervous System: The synchronized breath and movement in the Primary Series balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting relaxation, resilience, and emotional well-being.
  • Energetic Alignment: The engagement of internal energy locks (bandhas) in the Primary Series promotes energetic alignment and flow within the body, enhancing vitality, stability, and inner strength.
  • Deepened Connection to Self: The Primary Series serves as a transformative journey of self-discovery and self-awareness, offering practitioners a profound opportunity to connect with their breath, body, and innermost essence.


The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series is not just a physical practice; it is a sacred journey of purification, transformation, and self-realization.

By embracing the principles of breath-centered movement, dynamic sequencing, and focused attention, practitioners unlock the full potential of the practice, tapping into the innate wisdom and vitality within.

As we journey through the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, may we cultivate a deep connection to our breath, body, and innermost essence, experiencing the transformative magic of yoga on and off the mat.

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