What is Ashtanga Yoga and Why Would Anyone Do It Ever?

by Natalie Lembeck

My first experience with Ashtanga Yoga was in 2018 during my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program. I had a regular flow vinyasa practice but had never taken a strictly Ashtanga class. I figured it would be similar enough to other styles of yoga that I had practiced and that I would have an easy time with it, more or less. Well, let me tell you: I was wrong. Once we got to the seated postures, all I could think about was how many vinyasas are in this sequence?? and who would ever do this?? Of course, we all had the option to skip vinyasas and watch, but my stubborn ego was in the way and I kept trying and exhausting myself. I was so frustrated by the practice that I refused to attend another. It would have been another year and a half before I tried Ashtanga Yoga again.

Late in 2019, I was ready to become a yoga instructor myself. The manager of the studio I practiced at in Washington, DC interviewed me and invited me to take 2 weeks of yoga classes for free, encouraging me to try the Mysore room, as that was where many of the other instructors and owner practiced and taught. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, I thought it would be the best opportunity to get to know the owner and other instructors. The first time I poked my head into the Mysore room, I was astounded. It was nothing like any led yoga class I had ever experienced. Everyone was doing their own practice, the room was hot, and the only sound you could hear was the ujjayi-like breath of 20+ yogis. It was magical. So, I tried Ashtanga Yoga again — this time expecting to practice for 2 weeks, get the offer to become an instructor, and return to my regular scheduled programming of led vinyasa classes. Oh, how wrong I was…again.

I fell in love with Ashtanga. The tradition, the philosophy, the way it presents you with the exact lesson you need to learn. The way you continually meet your ego and learn how to soften. The way it opens the body and reveals your wounds buried in your tissues — sometimes gently, sometimes not. But always, always with the support of the practice to guide you deeper into your healing. And, while the physical practice can be impressive, it is never about the acrobatics. It is the process that brings you deeper into the real practice of Yoga. It is the tools of Ashtanga (eight limbs):Yamas (ethical restraints), Niyamas (duties or observances), Asana (posture) Pranayama (breath), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), and Dharana (concentration) that guide you to the one-pointed focus of the mind, Dhyana (mediation) and eventually to Ultimate Bliss, Samadhi, and Oneness with all that is, Yoga. It is truly accessible and available to anyone, if you allow it to be. The practice meets you where you are. And as the saying goes, “Practice, and all is coming.”

Head to our class calendar or event page to see when you can catch an Ashtanga class with Natalie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

Our mission is to provide a safe and accepting space where students can learn, heal, grow - and have fun! We work to create peace in our world, communities and families by first creating peace within ourselves.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

We'll send special offers, yoga articles, event information, and more - directly to your inbox!

Gift Certificates + Class Passes

Contact Us

Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786