Part of the problem perhaps is our perception of both. Ramaswami presents the 'Vinyasa Krama' asana in around ten medium to long sequences. Although he will stress that this is for pedagogic purposes and that we need to choose the asana we will practice each day it's hard not to fixate on the sequences, especially if you're an Ashtangi with the view that Ashtanga itself fixates on fixed sequences.
Our view of Ashtanga is often of a fast practiced, dynamic, cardio workout, it can be practiced like that perhaps but it's not the only way to practice and I would suggest not the approach to practice most Ashtangi's settle on over time.
Here however are some things to notice about Ashtanga that may allow us to see that Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga are perhaps not so far removed from each other, if not essentially the same.
- Notice how calm and focussed the practice of Ashtanga becomes as practitioners become more experienced.
- Notice how smooth and steady the breath
- Notice the longer stays in the same key asana as Vinyasa Krama, Paschimattanasana, Janu Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, Sirsasana as well as in others.
- Notice that however Ashtangi's may approach the series they are working on, the finishing sequence might well be something else altogether, practiced more slowly, with more focus and with the longer stays indicated.
- Notice the variations of asana in the likes of prasarita series, paschimattanasana, Janu Sirsasana, Marichiyasana etc.
- Notice the variations in sarvangasana.
- Notice that many Ashtnagi's DO modify their practice.
- Notice that many Ashtangi's will emphasis certain asana on different days, depending on their perceived needs of the day, passing quickly through some asana, staying longer in others.
- Notice how many Ashtangi's will often repeat an asana, two or three times.
- Notice that many Ashtangi's do begin to integrate pranayama
- Notice that many Ashtangi's do have a separate seated practice
- Notice that though many don't have a 'sitting' practice more often than not they include a long focussed savasana.
- Notice that many Ashtangi's study Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as well as other texts or at least have a passing awareness of the basics of yoga philosophy.
- notice that many Ashtangi seek to integrate the Yama and niyama in their lives.
- Notice that most Ashtangi's begin their practice with a chant and many follow their practice with a chant or chanting also.
- Notice that many teachers DO modify their students practice.
- Notice how an experienced practitioner will often slow down their practice over time.
- Notice how many experienced and proficient Ashtanga practitioners will, at some point, let go of the intermediate and advanced series and come back to Primary asana and seek to practice them more deeply.
- Notice how the majority of Ashtanga teachers share the practice with humility in shalas that barely make a profit, as service.
- Notice how teacher maintain their own practice
- Notice how experienced practitioners whether teachers or not are constantly seeking to deepen the understanding of their practice and how it relates to their practice of yoga as a whole.
- Notice how many teachers maintain a connection with their own teachers.
- Notice how Ashtangi's where possible eventually develop a daily practice
- Notice how Ashtang's bring focus, discipline and service into their lives through their practice
- Notice how at some point most practitioners always seem come back to the breath, for all the advanced asana they may explore, being present with the breath is the beginning, middle and end of their asana practice.