Practicing yoga for more than 4 years, I suddenly wanted to try a new direction for myself, which I had previously stubbornly avoided because of its tough nature – ashtanga vinyasa. According to the philosophy of this school, yoga does not have to adapt to the weakness and imperfection of the practitioner, but on the contrary, the practitioner must develop himself to conform to the ideals of yoga.
It’s not that I love penance and work at the limit of my abilities, but the results that this practice promises seemed to me very attractive: the ideal body shape, flexibility and strength, peace of mind, and most importantly, the ability to control one’s attention to me lacks. However, in more detail about all the ashtanga vinyasa bonuses I’ll tell you later.
So, when I heard about the severity of the method, I decided to get the most detailed information. As an expert, I chose a teacher of yoga and a literary expert from the center of Kerala, Arya Murty. Perhaps, something that I was able to learn during our conversation will be useful to someone else for the successful start of the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
In the West, many believe that the style was created by the teacher of yoga Pattabhi Joyce, among whose students there were many famous personalities – Madonna, Sting and many others. However, this is not quite true. Indeed, Sri Pattabhi Joyce formulated and systematized Ashtanga Vinyasa as a separate direction, but he received knowledge from his famous guru, perhaps the most famous yogi of the 20th century, Sri Krishnamacharya, who in turn took it from the ancient original source, the sacred text of Yoga Korunt, the author of which is the sage Sri Vamana. Today, thanks to Pattabhi Joyce, millions of people around the world practice this style, transforming the body and consciousness.
Elements of the practice of ashtanga vinyasa
Asanas – poses. They are the basis of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, as well as all other types of Hatha Yoga.
Vinyasas are movements that connect the asanas into a single stream.
Ujai – a special kind of breathing with sound, involving the throat area.
Drishti – fixing a glance at one point, the main method of managing attention.
Bandhi are “locks.” There are only three of them: mula bandha (root lock), udyan bandha (lock in the abdominal area) and jalandhara bandha (throat lock).
Levels of Practice
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has three series, differing in the level of complexity. Please do not think that having a base in yoga or just a good physical training, you can skip one of them, immediately jumping to the middle, or even more advanced level. The keystone to success in ashtanga yoga is a systematic approach.
The first series is called Kaya Chikitsa, or Yoga Chikitsa. Chikitsa in Sanskrit means “healing”. Yoga Chikitsa is “yoga treatment”, asanas of the initial level, aimed at purification and improvement of the physical body. This series is considered the most important, because it builds understanding of all subsequent series.
The second series, Nadishodana, consists of asanas and medium-level vinyasas to purify the intangible energy channels of the body.
The third series, Sthira Bhaga, is intended for advanced users and in its turn also has its own gradation – sublevels A, B, C, D. But we will not talk about them in terms.)))
Tips for safe entry into practice from Arya Murthy:
Be patient. It is not necessary to hurry to start vinyasas sooner, first all asanas should be mastered. It is necessary to have an excellent technique for their implementation, entry and exit from asana, the principles of its detuning and contra-indications. It is also necessary to learn the names of asanas, ideally, in Sanskrit, and in translation, because they contain her mood and mental image. In addition, it is necessary to follow the instructions of the teacher quickly and without hesitation.
Start with short practices. The classical practice of ashtanga vinyasa lasts 90 minutes, but in fact only advanced students can overpower it. It is better to start with 45-minute sessions, gradually lengthening them to give the body the opportunity to get used to the loads.
Know your capabilities. Revaluation of their physical data, as well as incorrectly adjusted postures may result in health problems. It is necessary to study the types of complications of each asana, and gradually move from one modification to another. Thus, you will gradually develop your body, avoiding unnecessary injuries.
Realize your breathing. Frequent breathing causes fatigue. Correct, deep breathing energizes and soothes the mind. Sri Krishnamacharya used the scheme in 10 seconds of inspiration and 10 seconds of exhalation. The right breaths and exhalations are the key to good practice and self-improvement.
Master the elements of practice gradually. At the initial stage of practice we should not try to unite once all four components: vinyasa, breathing Udzha, bandha and drishti. Master them individually, and then one by one connect with each other. For example, after mastering asana, connect it with the breath of Ujaya. Practice Drishti, concentration on the tip of the nose or on the center between the eyebrows, first in a sitting posture, and having succeeded, in turn asanas and vinyasa execution in the classroom. The same rule for bandhas. Train referee bandhu in a standing position, and then to a sitting posture. And only after this bandha can be used during the practice of asanas.
Track the reactions of the body. At the slightest discomfort in the final position of the asana, that is, after the completion of the detuning, it is necessary to reduce the level of complication. For example, if you feel pain in the ankle during Prasarita padottanasana (deflection forward, standing with straight legs), transfer the weight of the body to the front half of the feet, otherwise the ankle joint may become damaged. As we said earlier, it is necessary to know very well the various modifications of asanas and to master them better under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Effect of practice
As promised, I describe in detail the effect of the practice of ashtanga vinyasa, now using all the necessary terms:
Develops the body: works through all muscle groups, makes it flexible and elastic, and, importantly, gives an ideal physical shape.
Cleans the body on a physical level, removing slags and eliminating stagnation, and on energy – removes blocks in the channels of the nadi, along which the life force – prana – circulates.
The breathing of Ujaya calms the nervous system and mind. Eliminates insomnia and other disorders of the nervous system. Brings a sense of peace, contentment and peace.
Practice Drishti develops the power of concentration and the ability to direct attention.
Locks help to stimulate the work of internal organs and heal the body. For example, mulabandha is effective in psychosomatic and degenerative diseases. And udjan bandha is essentially a kind of massage for internal organs, affects the function of the pancreas, liver, balances the work of the adrenals and gives strength to all internal organs.
Practice has an amazing effect on the mental plane. Initially, it is intended for people whose governing energy is rajas, or passion. These people are usually characterized by a craving for activity, they are active and often fussy. In the course of practice, there is a transformation from rajas to satva, or the energy of goodness. This is a great advancement in the ladder of spiritual development, for goodness is energy that allows one to get rid of senseless material activity and launch a process of self-realization. It is the energy of sages and great yogis.
I described only some of the bonuses of practice, which seemed to me personally the most valuable, in fact, according to Arya Murty, they are innumerable.
In general, if, after reading my modest note, you are inspired to start practicing ashtanga vinyasa, please, be attentive to the final advice:
determine your physical, psychological and spiritual level – do not try to jump immediately to a higher level without a sufficient base;
Be serious and aware in your practice;
find a qualified teacher, since any knowledge is transmitted without distortion only in the chain of disciplic succession;
Be persistent in working on yourself;
set goals and make efforts to achieve them;
get the maximum use;
enjoy the process of practice and the inner calm that it will surely bring to you.