ashtanga yoga in sacramento:

first series ashtanga
"yoga chikitsa"

The first series is also known as the ashtanga primary series.
Bhujapidasana (arm pressure pose)

< < < A -From downdog, hop around the arms and
come into the balance on an inhale.

B - With an exhale, fold forward with top of head
(or even chin) on the floor. Hold 5 breaths.    
> > >

C - Inhale back upright, straighten the legs. Exhale
and float back to chaturanga for your vinyasa.

< < < Kurmasana (tortoise)

Supta Kurmasana (reclining tortoise)  > > >

< < <
Garbha Pindasana (embryo in the womb)

Kukkutasana (rooster)  > > >

< < <
Baddha Konasana (bound angle)   

Upavista Konasana
(wide angle seated forward fold)

A - On the floor, grabbing outsides
of the feet. Drishti = third eye.
> > >

B - Grab the big toes and with an inhale
lift up and balance.
> > >

< < <
 Supta Konasana (reclining angle pose)

Supta Padangustasana (reclining big toe pose)

< < <  A - Leg up in the air.

B - Leg out to the side. > > >

Chakrasana (the wheel)

This backward summersault is used as an exit to chaturanga
after supta padangustasana.

Ubhaya Padangustasana (both big toes pose)

After jumping through, lie down and take
an exhale. Inhale and lift legs over the head.

< < <  Exhale as you grab the big toes.   

Inhale as you roll up into the pose.
> > >
Hold 5 breaths. Drishti = upward.

< < < Urdvha Mukha Paschimottanasana
(upward facing paschimo)  

Starts the same as the last pose but this time
rolling up with a different clasp. Drishti = toes.

Setu Bandhasana (bridge building pose) > > >

Drishti = third eye.

After releasing, take chakrasana as an
exit to chaturanga.
Adho Mukha Svanasana - the downward facing dog - in Sun Salutations at the beginning of a First Series Ashtanga class.
An Ashtanga class with Pattabhi Jois in India -- students in Padangustasana after the Sun Salutations.
Courtney McElroy in Utthita Trikonasana from the Ashtanga Yoga standing poses at a led class with Pattabhi Jois in Mysore.
Bill with Pam Rentz in Prasarita Padottasana A in a first series ashtanga class.
Alicia Rawls in Prasarita Padottanasana C from the Ashtanga Yoga opening sequence.
Parsvottanasana from the Ashtanga Yoga opening sequence.
Ashtanga Yoga: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana from the Ashtanga openion g sequence.
Mike in Arda Baddha Padma Uttanasana
Bill assisting in Warrior I at the beginning of an Ashtanga class.
Dandasana. Here Bill got bored and us doing an utplutihi (uplifted) version.
Ashtanga in Sweden: Alicia Rawls in Paschimottanasana from the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Yoga in Sacramento: Kathy Dominic in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana from the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Denise Payne in the entrance to Bhujapidasana.
Mike Salmon in Garbha Pindasana from the Astanga yoga first series
Holding the feet open in Baddha Konasana, from the Ashtanga First Series.
Benise Payne of Yoga Bhoga in Portland, OR in Urdvha Mukha Paschimottanasana from the ashtanga primary series.
Ashtanga Finishing Poses: Risa Dixon in Sarvangasana
Pindasana in Sarvangasana from the Ashtanga Yoga finishing poses.
Sacramento Yoga: Bill lifting up from Headstand--Urdvha Sirsasana
Yogi Mudrasana in the finishing poses after an Ashtanga First Series practice.
Denise Payne in the full Bhujapidasana. Five breaths then inhale up.
Melanie in Matsyasana in the Astanga First Series (also known as the Ashtanga Primary Series).
An advanced version of the tortoise -- raja kurmasana
Melanie in Upavista Konasana from astanga yoga first series
Bill Counter in Virabhadrasana I, from the standing pose sequence prior to an Ashtanga Yoga First Series practice.
Bill Counter twisting in Marichyasana C from the Ashtanga First Series.
Jasmine Deguire in Setu Bandhasana, the last pose of the Ashtanga First Series
Marichyasana A from the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Yoga in Sacramento -- Bill Counter's classes include classical hatha, power yoga and first series ashtanga.
Paschimottanasana after backbends in the Ashtanga finishing poses.
Yoga in Sacramento with Bill Counter.
Concluding the practice with Savasana, the corpse pose.
SAcramento Yoga: Helping in Warrior II.
Tucson yoga teacher Jasmine Deguire in Kukkutasana, the rooster pose from the ashtanga primary series.
classes with
Bill Counter
in Sacramento, California
(916) 441-4914

About ashtanga yoga
This is a traditional practice form first introduced to the west by K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India.
It takes its name from the 8 limbed (or
ashta-anga) system outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga
in 200 BC. Only one of Patanjali's limbs was concerned with the asanas (poses) and his
treatise is primarily a roadmap toward meditation and enlightenment. Pattabhi Jois (and before
him, his teacher Krishnamacharya) alleges that this system of asana practice is the practice of

The ashtanga system consists of six series of poses, each of which is always taught in a specific
sequential order.  First and second series are of approximately equal difficulty with hard poses
and moderately tame ones in each -- it's just a different flavor of practice.

First has lots of forward bends, second adds backbends, more arm balances and inversions to
the menu. Third series gets quite harder -- it adds yet more arm balance work, hanumanasana,
foot behind the head variations and more. Fourth, fifth and sixth have some easy poses that are
very common but also a number of seldom seen items. There's enough work for most mortals in
the first three series.

Ways of approaching the practice

It's a challenging system that can be approached from several directions. The poses are drawn
from the same traditional sources as many other styles of practice so many of them can be
learned in hatha yoga classes of more moderate pace. We work on almost all of the first series
poses in our basic hatha yoga classes. In ashtanga or power yoga clases, we ramp it up and
make it flow.

vinyasa (a linking sequence tied to the breath) originated with the ashtanga system but it
also shows up in adaptations of ashtanga practice such as vinyasa flow and power yoga.
Depending on the teacher these classes may be at a more moderate pace or offer a more
balanced selection of poses than a traditional first series ashtanga practice. All of the sequences
of poses in first series (including their ashtanga-style entrances and exits -- the vinyasas) cycle
through our power yoga and vinyasa classes. We also work on many sequences from the
second, third and fourth series.

ujjayi breathing that is another hallmark of this system is now also taught in many
non-ashtanga styles of practice. All of the classes we teach utilize ujjayi breathing. Thanks to the
influence of ashtanga it has become the basic breathwork of any hatha yoga practice.

The first series work is approachable in various ways. You can explore the poses individually,
work on groups of poses with their traditional vinyasas or try the whole series at once. Just take
it easy, enjoy yourself and work more deeply into the practice over time.

We'll see you in class!
First Series (also known as the ashtanga primary series)

Yoga Chikitsa, the Sanskrit title for this series, means yoga
therapy - a program that when done regularly (so the story
goes) cures your ailments and purifies the physical body to
make you ready for deeper yogic practice -- both physical and

The first series class sequence

opening sequence--

Surya Namaskara A

Surya Namaskara B

< < < Padangusthasana (big toe pose)

Pada Hastasana (hands under feet) > > >

< < <
Trikonasana (triangle)

Parivritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle) > > >

< < <
Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle)

Parivritta Parsvakonasana
(revolved side angle) > > >

Prasarita Padottanasana  (wide leg forward fold)

< < < A - Hands on the floor.

B - Hands stay on waist. > > >

< < <
C - Hands clasp behind and
lower towards the floor.

D - Hands grab the big toes. > > >

< < <
Parsvottanasana (side intense stretch)

Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana
(extended hand to big toe)

A - Inhale as the leg lifts in front. Grab the big toes and
exhale was the elbow bends and the leg and torso work
toward meeting at a 45 degree angle. Take 5 breaths.
Drishti = toes  .
> > >

< < <
B - Inhale and stretch tall, exhale as the leg goes
out to side. Take another 5 breaths.  
Drishti = parsva (side).

C - Inhale as the leg comes back to center, exhale
as you take a bow to the leg. Drishti = toes.

D - Inhale as you come vertical and take the hands to
the hips. Take 5 breaths with the leg unsupported.
> > >
Drishti = nose. Exhale and release to samasthiti.
Repeat on the second side.

< < < Ardha Baddha Padma Uttanasana
(half bound lotus intense stretch)

Utkatasana (fierce) > > >

< < <
Virabhadrasana I (warrior)

Virabhadrasana II (warrior)   > > >
Bill in Pada Hastasana. Bill teaches Ashtanga yoga in Sacramento, CA
Sacramento yoga adept Kathy Dominic in Utkatasana, the fierce pose, from the Ashtanga Yoga opening sequence.
first series poses--

< < < Dandasana (staff pose)

(west intense stretch)

A - Grab big toes. > > >

< < <
B - Take the sides of the feet or a
reverse clasp beyond the feet.

Purvottasana (east intense stretch) > > >

< < <
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana
(half bound lotus version of paschimottanasana)

Trianga Mukaikapada Paschimottanasana   > > >
(1 leg folded back, forward fold)

Janu Sirsasana (head to knee pose)

< < <  A - Leg folded in, foot touching thigh.

B - Sitting on foot, heel at perineum. > > >

< < <
 C - Foot vertical.


- Forward fold with one knee up,
other leg straight.   
 > > >

< < <
 B - Forward fold with one knee up,
other leg in half lotus.

C - Twist toward upraised knee
with other leg straight.   
> > >

< < <
 D - Twist toward upraised knee
with other leg in half lotus.

Paripurna Navasana (boat) > > >

Land on the sitbones as you hop into the pose
from downdog. Hold 5 breaths. Drishti = toes.

Release on an exhale, cross the legs and lift up
into a handstand with an inhale. Repeat navasana
4 more times with a handstand after each.

Or just lift up and swing in lolasana (the pendulum)
as your vinyasa.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) > > >

Exit the last handstand in the boat cycle by a
vinyasa down directly into chaturanga dandasana
as you exhale.
Kathy Dominic in Paschimottanasana A from the Ashtanga yoga First Series.
Ashtanga Primary Series: Trianga Mukha Ekapada Paschimottanasana
Ashtanga Yoga on the beach--Kathy Dominic in Janu Sirsasana C.

finishing poses--

< < < Urdvha Dhanurasana
Urdvha = upward, Dhanura = bow.

3 repetitions, 5 breaths each. Either
lifting up from the mat or dropping
back from samasthiti. Drishti = 3rd eye.

Paschimottanasana   > > >
Paschima = west, Ut = intense,
Tan = stretch.

10 breaths. Drishti = toes

< < <  Savasana  
Sava = corpse.

After paschimottanasana, take a vinyasa and jump
through from downdog and lie down. Take 5 breaths
here before sarvangasana.

Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand)  
Salamba = supported, sarva = all, anga = limb
.   > > >

25 breaths. Drishti = nose.

< < <  Halasana
Hala = plow.

10 breaths. Drishti = navel.

< < < Karnapidasana
Karna = ear, Pida = pressure.

10 breaths. Drishti = navel

Urdvha Padmasana  > > >
Urdvha = upward, Padma = lotus.

10 breaths. Drishti = navel.

< < < Pindasana in Sarvangasana
Pinda = embryo.

10 breaths. Drishti = navel.

Matsyasana  > > >
Matsya = fish.

10 breaths. Drishti = 3rd eye.

< < <  Uttana Padasana
Ut = intense, Tan = stretched, Pada = feet or legs.

10 breaths Drishti = 3rd eye.

Chakrasana again as an exit after releasing the pose.
Take a vinyasa to downdog. Come down on the knees
with an exhale for:

Sirsasana  > > >
Sirsa = head.

15 breaths. Drishti = straight ahead.

< < < Urdvha Sirsasana (lifting up from headstand)
Urdvha = upward, Sirsa = head.

Lift up and balance for 10 breaths. Ideally with
Jalandhara Bandha and drishti at the toes.

Exiting Sirsasana   > > >

Exhale down so toes touch the floor, inhale
back up to full sirsasana a total of 5 times.

< < <   Urdvha Dandasana
Urdvha = upward, Danda = staff

Exhale down to horizontal and hold for 10 breaths.
Drishti = straight ahead.

To exit: inhale and lift to sirsasana again, exhale down
with straight legs, then take balasana.

< < < Balasana (child's pose)
Bala = a child.

10 breaths. LIft up and take a vinyasa and
jump through and sit down.

Baddha Padmasana  > > >

Baddha = bound, Padma = lotus.

Find the pose on an exhale. Inhale and gaze up.
Don't hold but exhale leading with the chin down
into the next pose.

< < < Yogimudrasana
Yogi = that's you, Mudra = an energetic lock or seal.

10 breaths. Drishti = 3rd eye.

< < <  After exiting yogimudrasana on an inhale,
arch back and gaze up as a counter pose.

10 breaths. Drishti = 3rd eye.

Padmasana   > > >
Padma = lotus.

10 breaths. Drishti = nose.

< < < Tolasana  aka Utplutihi, "the uplifting"
Tola = scales. Utplutihi is a word that can mean an
uplifted version of any pose.

15 breaths (or more). Drishti = straight ahead.

Savasana     > > >
Sava = corpse. This is actually an easy
version of the full stiffened corpse at the
end of the 6th series. Thus Pattabi Jois
says "take rest" rather than "savasana".

The traditional entrance, tadaka mudra,
involves drishti at the 3rd eye with belly
hollowed and whole body completely
stiff for a very slow inhale and exhale.
Then 10 slow rhythmic breaths.

Release the stiffness. Take one more long inhale and exhale before
closing eyes, releasing control over the breath and completely

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yoga class descriptions

sacramento class schedule   


See you in class soon! If you're looking for information on
other series in the ashtanga yoga system, please see our
second series,  third series  and fourth series pages.

Are you ready to start thinking about the
fifth series poses?


                                       copyright 2006-2009 bill counter
Ashtanga Yoga in Sacramento: Kathy Dominic in Kurmasana , the tortiose pose.
SAcramento Yoga: Bill with students in Balasana, the child's pose.
Bill in Prasarita Padottanasana B -- observing the breath with hands on the belly.
AShtanga Yoga in Mysore, India. Parivritta Parsvakonasana from the Ashtanga opening sequence in a class led by Pattabhi Jois.
Ashtanga Yoga: Bill in Purvottanasana.
Kathy Dominic at Pismo Beach in Janu Sirsasana A from the Ashtanga Yoga First Series.
Ashtanga Yoga: Bill in Marichyasana B.
Marichyasana D from Ashtanga Yoga First Series.
Bill in Navasana from the middle of the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Handstand in a vinyasa after the boat--Ashtanga yoga first series.
The reclining angle pose, Supta Konasana, from the first series of the Ashtanga Yoga system.
Ashtanga yoga: Supta Padangustasana A
Supta Padangustasana B--leg out to the side.
Chakrasana--the wheel as an exit from poses ending on the back.
Chakrasana--landing in Chaturanga Dandasana
Chakrasana--exit after Supta Padangustasana
Prep for Ubhaya Padangusthasana.
Bill at Pismo Beach in Ubhaya Padangusthasana from the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Bill dead on the beach -- Savasana
The bound lotus, baddha padmasana, from the Ashtanga Yoga finishing poses.
Ashtanga Finishing Poses: Arch back after Yogimudrasana
Kathy Dominic in Karna Pidasana -- ashtanga yoga finishing poses.
Bill in Tolasana (aka Utplutihi) from the Ashtanga finishing poses. Bill teaches Ashtanga Yoga in Sacramento, CA.
Ashtanga Yoga in Sacramento: Kathy Dominic in Urdvha Dhanurasana.
Bill with Freya Poller in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.
Yoga in Sacramento: Here's Kathy Dominic hanging out in Urdvha Dandasana after a headstand.
Sacramento Yoga: Kathy Dominic exiting Sirsasana -- up and down 5 times.