For those students who have never done yoga before, be prepared for a challenge. Ashtanga yoga is commonly known as power yoga. Deep rhythmic breathing is combined with various yoga postures to create a thorough and extremely effective workout. The common misconception, that yoga is just a sitting, meditative experience, is completely off. Ashtanga is fast-paced and very physical. Regular practice builds strength, stamina, balance and flexibility.
With regular practice, yoga reduces stress levels through focus of mind on the breath. The breath is a background rhythm that carries you from the beginning to end of practice. Ashtanga goes beyond being just a physical exercise. The Ujiya breathing that is incorporated into the practice acts as a constant focus for the mind. This focus of the mind opens the door to a number of meditative possibilities.