Know the differences between Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Many people have asked me what is the difference between Vinyasa Krama and other styles of yoga.

Therefore, I will dedicate a series of entries to try to clarify these doubts, as far as I can, and to the extent that they reach my knowledge. I also look forward to your contributions in the comments.

We will begin by analyzing the similarities and differences between Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, also known simply as Ashtanga Yoga.

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A common origin

The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga was popularized during the last century by Pattabhi Jois. Jois learned this style from the teacher, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Jois learned this method from the guru when he was called by the Maharaja of Mysore to train the children and adolescents of the palace.

Therefore, dynamic yoga, full of jumps and strongly physical, which has been the basis of the current ashtanga vinyasa yoga, was conceived as a suitable practice for children and adolescents in charge of Krishnamacharya.

From the teachings of Krishnamacharya, Jois created his own style of yoga if you want to know more about the features of Ashtanga Vinyasa, I recommend this entry.

The Vinyasa Krama, however, is the style that Srivatsa Ramaswami has collected in his book The complete works of Vinyasa Yoga after studying more than 33 years with Krishnamacharya.

According to Ramaswami himself, this method is not a creation of his, but in the book, he merely exposes in detail the style learned from Krishnamacharya during his years of study with the guru. To learn more about the characteristics of this style, I recommend you read this article.

We could say that if Vinyasa Krama is the son of Krishnamacharya, Ashtanga Vinyasa is grandson (if you allow me the simplicity of the metaphor). By this, I do not want to say that one is better than another nor to throw greater authenticity to the Vinyasa Krama. Nothing is further from my intention. Both methods were transmitted by great teachers and are invaluable.

In addition, since they share a common origin, they also have many common characteristics.

Common characteristics of both styles

  • The two styles are based on the technique of vinyasa, that is, in the practice of asanas in a fluid way transiting from one to another through certain movements ( vinyasas ).
  • The breath that is used in both styles is called Ujjayi breathing, known as oceanic or victorious breathing.
  • The timing of breathing motion is also essential to both styles. Normally, expansion/extension movements are made on inspiration, while contraction/flexion movements are made on exhalation.
  • Likewise, both methods share an infinity of asanas, although some differ slightly in nomenclature and technique.
  • In both Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga, the bandhas are used, which are characteristic procedures of hatha yoga, consisting of muscular contractions to concentrate and direct the energy, as well as to protect the main articulatory groups.

Differences between Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEQUENCES

The Ashtanga is made up of three series of asanas of a fixed nature (primary, secondary, and advanced).

In the most orthodox approach, a practitioner cannot move on to the next series until he has mastered the previous one, even within the same series, he cannot move on to the next asana until he has mastered the previous one.

However, this approach has been softened in recent years by Manju Jois, one of Pattabhi Jois’ children.

The Vinyasa Krama is organized in ten fundamental sequences, in which the different types of asanas are grouped. For example, standing asanas (tadasana sequence), asanas in balance on one leg, posterior stretching asanas, etc.

However, this grouping into sequences responds mainly to a descriptive intention, since the practitioner is not obliged to perform the complete sequence in one session.

That is, every day, and according to their circumstances, the practitioner can choose the sequence that suits him, and even combine sub-sequences of several different sequences, depending on the time available and their objectives.

The ideal thing is that at the beginning, you do it together with a qualified teacher, who will create the appropriate and personalized sequence and will modify it over time, always adapting it to the specific circumstances of the student.

Later, as you learn the method, you can create the sequences that suit you every day.

In the Vinyasa Krama Practical Manual, by Steve Brandon and Charles Cox, you can find all the Vinyasa Krama sequences schematized in graphics.

 

MEANING OF THE WORD ‘ VINYASA.’

 

Ashtanga is known from vinyasa to all asanas formed by chaturanga, urdhva svanasana, and Adho svanasana Mukha Mukha and transitional movements between them.

In Vinyasa Krama, the word vinyasa designates both the different variations of the same asana and the movements of transition from one asana to another.

 

OPEN EYES VS CLOSED EYES

One of the essential elements of Ashtanga Vinyasa is the Drishti or look; it is the observation points to which you bring your attention to each asana to help you concentrate. The purpose of each of them is to look inside. The eyes are kept open and directed to a certain point, according to the asana.

However, Ramaswami states that the advanced practitioner of Vinyasa Krama should aspire to perform the entire practice with his eyes closed.

 

PRANAYAMA AND MEDITATION

The practice of pranayama and meditation should be included in all sessions of Vinyasa Krama. However, Ashtanga sessions are mostly dedicated to practicing asana.

As you can see, these are two very similar styles, in essence, but with important differences as well.

I invite you to leave your contribution in the comments.