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Ashtanga yoga is a meticulous practice popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois as a modern form of traditional Indian yoga. The quintessential power yoga, Ashtanga poses are meant to purify the body and mind by generating a detoxifying, internal heat. With synchronized breath and movement, not only does the mind find a deeper focus, but the muscles strengthen and tone with each posture. The countless vinyasas throughout the series also contributes to the overall fitness aspect of the practice.

Ashtanga flows are a structured class of repeated vinyasas and power poses including several inversions (poses where your head is beneath your heart) and seated positions. The room is not heated, and there are no weights. It's just you, your mat, and the wall for support if need be.

Ashtanga is a get strong fast, cardio type yoga, for people who want a challenge, and are okay with structure and routine. But like any class on the mat, the challenge comes from within. You can just as easily cheat your body and mind out of an incredible, detoxifying and strengthening experience. Ashtanga IS for everyone, but is not for quitters. Is not for the lazy, nor is it a ‘relaxing’ hour of stretches. It is a challenge, it is powerful and it is strength building.

Traditional Ashtangis have high expectations for their practice, but the Ashtanga series patiently teaches perfection and self improvement, starting with the most important part of yoga: the breath. After learning to breathe – something we could all work on – yogic postures become more attainable, maybe even more comfortable. Breathing through vinyasas and subsequent, consistent poses is the perfect metaphor for breathing through life challenges. With breath control, we calm our minds and relax the body: A better position with which to approach any number of challenges.

This post was co-authored by Jessica Lyn Young and Brett Rezek, owners of Evolve Yoga Denver. Evolve Yoga Denver, located on South Broadway in Denver is an Ashtanga-based yoga studio with Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket, Yin and other regularly scheduled yoga classes.