Ashtanga Yoga Practice
1) Don’t be intimidated
Even when you consider the primary series alone (in Ashtanga, there are six series of postures), the practice can seem daunting. “ Lisa-Marie wants me to do what with my legs? I’m not strong/flexible/advanced enough!” Remember, the sequence is designed to build on your mental and physical strength, flexibility, and space created in the preceding postures.
2) Don’t beat yourself up
The primary series is called Yoga Chikitsa or yoga therapy, because it eliminates toxins and disease. Starting Ashtanga is a perfect time to jumpstart lifestyle changes you’ve been meaning to make. Self-criticism and extremism won’t help you in any form of practice. Try to consider your new practice as an opportunity to examine your choices, make adjustments and work on self-kindness, as all linages of yoga encourage.
3) Really Breathe in your Ashtanga Yoga Practice
If you’ve practiced any kind of yoga, you'll know that breath is integral. All postures in Ashtanga are linked by breath (vinyasa). Breathing will bring you further into each posture and sustain you to Savasana, it will also keep you focused on the here and now. Use the ujjayi breath as an anchor to keep you present in your practice.
4) Treat every Vinyasa as the first
By the 25th chaturanga, you might be wondering why you started practicing at all. But hold onto your ‘beginners mind’! Try to perform every vinyasa with equal effort – a lazy practice might cause injuries. Remember to check in with your ‘I-amness’ (ego) and add in your individual variations/modifications to your practice.
5) ‘Do your practice’ (and all is coming)
Thanks Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, (Ashtanga’s founder), for this piece of wisdom! Just show up to the mat with no expectations. When you stop thinking you’ll notice muscles and a range of motion you didn’t have the week before. Ashtanga’s eightfold path is long and multifaceted, but with a healthy body, calm mind, and developing practice, you’ll wind up further along than you anticipated. Look at your practice as self-acceptance rather than self-improvement.
Have fun with your Ashtanga Yoga Practice 🙂