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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Ashtanga Yoga Inside Out

Mar 09, 2011 07:30PM ● By Bobbi Misiti

Bobbi Misiti

Ashtanga yoga is a revived, ancient form of hatha yoga that involves ujjayi (loud) breathing and a swift, challenging series of postures, or asanas, designed to detoxify and align the body. The physicality of the practice is sometimes misunderstood. The real work in this practice is the inner work; that of breathing deeply while relaxing the body in the poses. The asanas work systematically from the musculoskeletal system to the organs and then to the lymph, nervous, endocrine and energy systems, balancing the body, mind and emotions.

The poses may seem a little funky at times. Take, for example, using the heel as a “tool.” In the Ashtanga tradition, the heel presses into the abdomen during many of the postures that involve forward bends. The pressure from the heel is said to “wring out” the organs and help move energy and lymph. While holding a posture, stale blood and toxins are squeezed out. When the posture is released, fresh blood and nutrients flush through the organs, thereby detoxifying the body.

The intense breathing and moving synchronization that is the heart of the Ashtanga practice relaxes the mind, while energizing the body. The deep breathing helps lower heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress and tension, rejuvenating the body with energy. In these ways, the practice of Ashtanga yoga benefits the whole body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well.


Bobbi Misiti is the founder of BeFit Body & Mind Yoga. Location: 2201 Market St., Camp Hill 17011. For more info, call 717-443-1119 or visit BeFitYoga.com.

October 2019