In Ashtanga yoga, postures are grouped into 6 series known as primary, intermediate and advanced A, B, C and D. The format of each sequence is predetermined and remains the same always. The teacher does not deviate from the sequence, but gives modifications to students with injuries or in certain cases such as during pregnancy. The student practices the postures in the same order every time and gradually advances to the next posture once the teacher authorizes it. Primary series is the foundation of Ashtanga yoga and prepares the student to engage in all elements of the physical practice: yoga posture (asana), breathing technique, and gazing point (dristhi).
Ashtanga yoga can be taught in two ways:
- Mysore style: The traditional method of learning the practice. In this setting, the student carries out a self-practice at her own pace instead as opposed to keeping up with the flow of a group. The teacher does not lead the class through sequence, but instructs students individually. A Mysore class is suitable for beginners because it is a great opportunity to work closely with the teacher on postures and techniques. This approach also helps the student in memorizing the sequence of asanas.
- Led class: the teacher guides the students through the sequence of postures in a steady and synchronized pace. All the students practice the same posture at the same time to the teacher's Vinyasa count and instruction.