Astanga and Vinyasa: What’s the difference?

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October 14, 2017
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Yoga has recently taken over the world as a new trend in the lifestyle domain. Many new centres are popping up every day with each one teaching a style different from others. Among the various styles of yoga, the two widely popular yet confused styles are Astanga and Vinyasa Style of Yoga. Many newcomers do not understand the minute differences between the different styles of yoga, and as a result, they fail to get the best out of it. It is essential that the person should understand the fundamental differences between Astanga and Vinyasa and they try which style suits perfectly one needs.

Astanga Yoga

Astanga Yoga, when translated into English, will mean eight-limbs of yoga, or eight folds of yoga. It signifies that Astanga yoga sees yoga as a way of life. Yoga or asana forms only one part of the limb. The other aspects or limb of yoga are about living life in a kind, simple manner, breathing, focusing, meditating, and necessarily attaining a permanent state of joy.  In short, an Astanga yoga practitioner seeks to find yoga as a way of life.

Aside from the philosophy, in a regular class of Astanga, a fixed set of yoga posture is practiced every day. There is complete silence, and all that is audible is your teacher’s sound and your breathing. This gives an impression of old-school teaching where all sorts of disturbances are kept out of the room. Also, the postures are rigid and intense, which makes it challenging even though the same set is followed every day. Its practitioners find peace in serene lifestyle.


Vinyasa believes in the power of flow, and this element of flow is found in every aspect of the Vinyasa. Vinyasa, when translated into English, will mean transition. In Sanskrit, it can have different interpretations depending upon the use like to move in flow or change in posture and so on. It is an umbrella term for a various form of yoga which involves the flow of movement from one position to another. Some gurus feel that a correct methodology of transition or Vinyasa is essential to reap the maximum benefit from yoga posture.

Translating the philosophy to class, in a Vinyasa class, you will find that the classrooms are light and are accompanied by the music in the background. This sets the stage for an active yet light action. The people find it less intense as the yoga postures are not same and the emphasis is more on the transition smoothness than on the firm position. Its practitioners find excitement in variety and transition yet fun style of exercise.

Which style to choose?

The best analogy for the two style of Yoga will be as follows: According to yoga master, John Salisbury, Astanga is like school, and Vinyasa is like recess. This does not mean that one is more abridged than other or one is easier than other. It emphasis the way a yoga style take an approach on posture and the technique of performing the asanas.


Yoga is as easy and as complicated as you make it. It is one of the highly customizable forms of exercise you will ever find. Different styles of yoga cater to different people. The best way to find out which style best suits to your need is by signing up for both the style and see for yourself which one is more enjoyable or fulfilling and helps you in your motive of learning yoga. Ultimately the thing that is important that any form of yoga will help you to realize a good health and sound mind.

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