The complete Ashtanga primary series takes 90 minutes. The idea is that you would do the 90 minutes six days a week. Wow! Obviously that is not realistic for the vast majority of practitioners — we have families, jobs, hobbies, etc. Even David Swenson, one of the nationally known Ashtanga teachers, knows that such an intense time commitment is not practical for everyone.
“…it is not feasible to expect everyone to apply such a disciplinary regimen,” he writes in Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. “Setting unreasonable goals creates a recipe for discouragement or self-doubt which may lead to giving up the practice altogether. It is much better to practice a small amount rather than none at all.”
Angela Jamison also offers advice for how to practice when you only have a few minutes. What follows are a couple of short forms that take only 10-15 minutes.
David Swenson’s short form:
- 5 Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A)
- 3 Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salutation B)
- Paschimottanasana B (seated forward fold, hands around outsides of feet)
- Marichyasana C (seated twist)
- Navasana 2x (boat)
- Urdhva Dhanurasana (bridge or wheel), followed by Paschimottanasana B
- Padmasana (seated cross-legged or lotus, with back of hands on knees, thumb and index finger touching, chin tucked)
Angela Jamison’s short form:
- Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A)
- Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salutation B) (do as many of each as you can)
- The closing postures: Baddha Padmasana, Padmasana, Tolasana)
However long your practice is, the important thing is that you build up energy and heat and then have a way for it to come down. You wouldn’t just do the first few asanas and then stop — you’d be stopping on a “high” without any counteraction. These short forms have the “bring up” and “bring down.”