Ashtanga is in fact not the easiest yoga practice, some people would call it a 90 min full body workout, if full primary series is practiced. It can be intimidating seeing others in yet unachievable poses and sometimes a modification seems already the hardest thing ever.
We Ashtangis use our “Darth Vader” breath as relaxing background music, most likely practice in the dawn and don’t worry about sweat dripping all over our mat, not often less than 6 days a week. Welcome if you are still with me 🙂
Still, there must be something about it, even for the one that has never done it before, it can be made accessible! What unites the beginner and the oldie is this after practice feeling of peace, stillness, inspiration and faith.
That’s why we created this little guide for all that want to give the ashtanga yoga method a go.
- First and foremost, this practice is a mindset. You need to bring a willingness to learn, to go into the uncomfortable. You need that commitment to failure, in order to strengthen your attitude and love yourself no matter what. First lesson for life.
- May your breath be your guidance. Here is where the magic happens. Before the posture comes the breath that brings you into it. It connects body and mind and no asana is mastered unless you breathe. It’s your first focus point of attention, pose and drishti after.
- Play it small. Build a foundation to build on it. In the beginning just sun salutations and some finishing postures are recommended. If that feels easy, you will add on standing postures by posture, then seated asanas, until you learn the entire series. This way we avoid injuries and strengthen and prepare your body for the full series.
- Be a student! Bring curiosity, questions and observation. Use anything you find, your teacher in the first place, books, youtube or even better, our amazing online training! 🙂 Anatomy and alignment are essential for a safe practice and a technical approach on how to get into an asana can be your light at the end of the tunnel.
Also, self-studies will give you a deeper understanding of history, philosophy and the principles of the practice itself. That keeps you motivated!
- Focus and feel. On yourself. Not on the ones that practice already for a while and make everything look easy. Make your mat the little island where you are with your body. Totally in it. The feeling of close body awareness is yoga, is unity of body, mind and spirit and for these moments we practice. Let me take this illusion that a mastered pose is the end goal. The real purpose is to be 100% in every part of your body and that can happen at any modification that suits your level.
- Surrender. To all the above, to your own body’s limitations, to the thoughts that might cross your mind. To the fact that you have to start as a beginner, won’t be there yet and rather enjoy the journey. Any moment of it is the chance to accept where you are, that you don’t have to prove anyone anything, not even yourself.
- Loving-kindness towards your body and mind and with this to what’s around you. Don’t push what’s not meant to happen (yet), in practice as in life. Almost naturally you might adopt your choices, your diet and your contribution to the word. Live love and compassion with yourself and others and let go of what no longer serves you.