philosopher's corner

The 5 W’s of Ashtanga YOga

Who can practice?

Anyone can practice.  AYW makes efforts to make the Ashtanga Yoga practice accessible to all interested students.  We will use skillfull means to tailor the practice to the individual needs and aspirations of each practitioner.  We will offer an informed opinion about the best way of using the techniques of Ashtanga Yoga to meet the students goals.

What do we practice? 

We focus on the techniques of the Ashtanga Yoga method, meaning 8 limbs

Yama

Niyama

Asana

Pranayama

Pratyahara

Dharana

Dhyana

Samadhi

including

Regulated diaphragmatic breathing with sound using a 1:1 ratio between exhale and inhale (Pranayama)

Posture, including intelligent sequencing, postural alignment, and musculoskeletal balance (Asana)

Gazing, using the 9 dristi’s as focal points for our attention (Prathyahara)

Bandha or muscular enhancements that direct energy and focus, harmonizing the body breath and mind (Dhyana)

Vinyasa or breathing and movement system.  Transferring forces through the body, from one foundation to the next, according to a choreographed number of movements, while maintaining the harmony and stability of the body, breath, and mind. (Moving meditation)

Where do we practice?


We can practice at home, at the shala, or on the go.  We may find that over the course of practice we are called to practice in any number of environments.  Each may offer some challenges and some benefits.

Shala –

work with a teacher and community

receive feedback and assistance with your practice

enjoy group energy

less distractions

may be more motivating

may need to share space, tolerate temperature, sounds, smells that we would prefer not to.  May bring up different challenges such as competition, pleasing the teacher, pushing ourselves too hard, not listenting to our bodies, etc…

Home –

Can work at your own pace

Practice solely for yourself

Can set the environment completely to your liking

Can be hard to motivate

Can get distracted

May miss the communal aspect

May miss the opportunity to have a teacher who is in tune with your practice

On the go-

Can be a moment of routine in unfamiliar environment. 

Can affirm your commitment to practice

May not have control over routine, environment, or schedule

When do we practice?

Each person needs to find a routine that works for them.  Having a routine frequency and time of practice can help to create a routine of practice and is key to reaping many of the benefits of practice.  Many benefits of practice either accumulate, or only come after practicing for some time. 

It is good to practice 3-6 days a week and at a time of day when you can be consistent.  There will be some variability in the appropriate number of days per week to practice for optimal results.  You can speak to your teacher if you have any questions.

We take off on moondays to honor the lunar cycle

Women may choose to take off for 2-3 days during their menstrual cycle

Why do we practice?

Every practitioner finds their own motivation.  Their reasons may shift over time and due to circumstance.  It is useful to engage in conscious self-reflection to consider your reasons for practice as this will largely direct the way that you practice.  It is useful to share your motivation and goals with your teacher so that you can work together in harmony.

How do we practice?

This is largely determined through a consideration of the prior questions.  There are many variables that can be adjusted to customize the practice on any given day.  This includes the number of poses that we do, the pace that we follow, the effort that we put in, the attention to detail, etc… The ashtanga yoga experience is a sophisticated and complex system.

Truly Yours,
Greg

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