Ashtanga Workshop: Primary Series Practice w/ Elliot

ashtanga workshop w/ Elliot cover

Ashtanga Workshop:
Practice the Primary Series w/Elliot

This Ashtanga Workshop for intermediate yogis is designed to help you transform your yoga practice into a more personal and healing ritual.

Practice the Ashtanga Primary series with Elliot on the first Saturday of each month at EAST WIND YOGA starting February 3rd! Sign up below…

Ashtanga Workshop designed For INTERMEDIATE to ADVANCED practitioners

This series will include additional workshops to cover various aspects of the postures and sequences that work up to the primary series, which is relatively advanced. These will accompany the primary series workshop as sister series. This is an opportunity for both practiced ashtangi and those that are brand new to the series to learn from the practice. Yogi’s should know sun salutation A and B or have practiced yoga for more than 1 year, with some regularity.

Space is Limited to 16 Spots. Reserve yours today by contacting Elliot @ [email protected].

Ashtanga Workshop Schedule:

  • 1:00-1:10 Minute Discussion, materials will have been previously provided via email
  • 1:11-1:15 Chant the Opening Mantra
  • 1:15-2:50 Practice the primary series with various modifications
  • 2:50-3:00 Questions, spare time for fall-backs, handstands, etc..
  • 3:00 Closing Mantra

The History of the Primary Series

Pattabhi Jois began teaching the primary series in 1948 in Mysore, India where I traveled in January 2015. The Jois Shala is now much larger than Pattabhi Jois’ first class capacity of 8 students. Pattabhi Jois is one of a short list of Indians who were instrumental in transmitting yoga from India to the West in the 20th century.[6]

The Roots of Yoga

Dive into the series that began the spread of yoga into the West and formed the foundation for modern-day vinyasa yoga. Move beyond the superficial western approach to yoga and into a deeper, vast ocean of personal space, discipline, honor, and care-taking of the incredible gift that is the human body.

Here are the videos I use for practicing the series:

Primary Series Video from 1989

Intermediate Series Video from 1989

Primary Series as Practiced by R. Sharath Jois


Ashtanga Primary Series Workshop Posture List:

  1. Standing Back Bend
  2. Forward Fold
  3. Half Lift
  4. Plank
  5. Chaturanga
  6. Cobra Pose
  7. Upward Dog
  8. Downward Dog
  9. Jump Through
  10. Mountains Pose
  11. Chair Pose
  12. Warrior 1
  13. Gorilla Pose
  14. Pangangustasana
  15. padahastasana
  16. Triangle Pose
  17. Revolved Triangle Pose
  18. Side-Angle Pose
  19. Revolved Side-Angle Pose
  20. Prasaraita A
  21. Prasaraita B
  22. Prasaraita C
  23. Prasaraita D
  24. Pyramid Pose
  25. Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana
  26. Arda Baddha Padmasana (w/ modifications)
  27. Utkatasana (extended hold)
  28. Virabhadrasana A (extended hold)
  29. Virabhadrasana B (extended hold)
  30. Arda Badha Padma Paschamotanasa (w/ modifications)
  31. triang mukha eka pada paschimatasana
  32. Janu Sirsasana A
  33. Janu Sirsasana B (w/ modifications)
  34. Janu Sirsasana C (w/ modifications)
  35. Marichyasana A (w/ modifications)
  36. Marichyasana B (w/ modifications)
  37. Marichyasana C (w/ modifications)
  38. Marichyasana D (w/ modifications)
  39. Navasana
  40. Bhujapidasana
  41. Upavistha Konasana  (w/ modifications)
  42. Supta konasana  (w/ modifications)
  43. Supta padangusthasana
  44. Ubhaya padanghustasana  (w/ modifications)
  45. Urdhva mukha paschimotanasana  (w/ modifications)
  46. Setu Bandhasana
  47. Salamba Sarvangasana
  48. Halasana
  49. Karnapidasana
  50. Urdhva Padmasana
  51. Pindasana
  52. Mathsyasana
  53. Uttana padasana
  54. Sirshasana
  55. Baddha Padmasana
  56. Yogi Mudra
  57. Padmasana
  58. Upplutihi

Opening Mantra:

Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde Sandarsita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai Abahu Purusakaram Sankhacakrasi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam Pranamami Patanjalim

Opening Mantra Meaning:


I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru
which awaken insight into the happiness of pure Being,
which are the refuge, the jungle physician,
which eliminate the delusion caused by the poisonous herb of Samsara (conditioned existence).

I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads (as the divine serpent, Ananta)
and who has, as far as his arms, assumed the form of a man
holding a conch shell (divine sound), a wheel (discus of light or infinite time) and a sword (discrimination).


Closing Mantra:


Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
Nya Yena Margena Mahim Mahishaha
Go Brahmanebhyaha Shubamastu Nityam
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Closing Mantra Meaning:


May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
May all beings everywhere be happy and free

Om peace, peace, perfect peace

If you want to practice the mantras, this is a great site

SIGN-UP For the Ashtanga Workshop

2/3 Auburn Sign-Up Form

[contact-form to=”[email protected]” subject=”Sign-up for 2/3 Workshop in Auburn”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][/contact-form]


You will receive a confirmation email when your name has been added to the participant list. Thanks!

Ashtanga Yoga and the Mysore Style Practice from India

Ashtanga Yoga Founder Krishnamacharya

Ashtanga – My Experiences

(I originally wrote this article before India. I’ve added on section devoted to my experiences in Mysore, India with Saraswathi Jois)

I love Ashtanga. I wish I had a morning Ashtanga practice that I could do every day with a teacher leading, maybe 2 hours. Ashtanga is a system of Hatha (physical yoga) that is extremely challenging and takes a long time to work into. You can tell pretty easily if someone does Ashtanga, just watch them go into plank and lower into chataranga and you’ll know. They don’t shrug their shoulders at all and it looks like they’ve done it a million times and can jump to handstand at any moment. Like a feather. That’s because they have done it a million times and they can jump to handstand at any moment.

Practicing Ashtanga in Mysore, India

In January 2015 I left Sacramento to travel to Mysore, India for three month in one of the poorest and most interesting countries in the world. Mysore is relatively peaceful and is one of the more religious places in all of India.

I arrived in Bangalore and traveled to Mysore over the course of another 7 hour drive. The Jois Shala, where the Ashtanga yoga method is now taught by Patthabhi Jois’ descendants to people that sign up in advanced to study with them.

Saraswathi Jois is a kindhearted and very loving older woman who looks fierce in her defense of her father’s tradition. Her ability to guide individuals in the primary series is powerful if guided by your own knowledge of limitations, injuries, and anatomical quirks that may exist in your body. No one in India will be able to reconcile these type of unique individualities for you, simply because the science and education are not at high enough levels yet.

Sharath looks a bit more imposing than Saraswathi, but is more accomplished in the series. I did not have a chance to practice with him, did not feel drawn to.

In modern Ashtanga there is a lot of forcing, which is not something I consider to be a truly mindful yoga practice. India taught me a lot about how to work within my own body and within a week of practicing yoga in Mysore I hurt my knee doing poses I had no business doing. I was forcing. I returned over the next fews days determined to be gentler and softer with myself and it worked. In a week I was 95% better.

Ashtanga is no replacement for science. Remember to educate yourself with your own unique anatomy, each pose is different in each skeleton.

Ashtanga in Boston

In Boston, I practiced at Back Bay and they had an Ashtanga class that was 2 hours every day and I tried it out. It was self led, so you did 5 sun salutation A, 5 sun salutation B (add chair & warrior 1), then straight into the standing series. We practiced until the end of the primary series and the teacher might talk to you about your practice for a minute. Maybe.

It was not fun to have the seasoned teacher of 15 years leave for a month-long vacation and have the sub teach, especially when the regular teacher wasn’t amazing to begin with. That’s when my practice at Back-Bay ended for a while, I was pretty disappointed. But I started to practice the primary series on my own and now I have a personal Ashtanga practice. Taking ownership of a personal practice is pretty powerful. In the end, it all kind of worked out (minus two months of paid yoga that I didn’t get to use for Ashtanga).

Ashtanga is an intensely personal practice. Anyone who has an regular Ashtanga practice will likely care about it a lot. You have to really regulate yourself, because its really easy to get injured doing scorpion poses and handstand lion’s breathes. I recommend some good prana-yama 30 minutes before practicing an Ashtanga series or class, it will mean a big difference in your prana passageways.

Ashtanga’s primary series can be really fun. Triangle, Prasaritta, Hasta padagustasana, Navasana, and Kurmasana are some of the first poses you will do after Sun Salutations and they are really great poses for the body to experience. Lots of inversion to help bloodflow and circulation of cerebral-spinal fluid. Not to mention the increased circulation because of sun salutes.

Ashtanga Chart
Ashtanga Primary Series

I found a studio in Sacramento that might offer good classes with a guy named Bill. This combined with Fridays at LEAP with Karen from 1 to 3 should make up my led Ashtanga classes. Maybe I can do it 3 times a week? 5-7 would be my ideal, but even that is very taxing, Ashtanga practices can be over two hours if you need it. Which happens.

I also think that yoga will evolve from the existing Ashtanga practice, which it seems has been lacking since Jois’ death. Iyengar is definitely a great teacher, and less controversial. I feel like Ashtanga type of yoga is destined to evolve. Maybe it already does somewhere…

Asntagna teacher
Random Ashtanga Teacher