Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ashtanga, a yoga practice

Yoga creates the struggle, you breathe through it.

Ashtanga is a yoga practice of which the main focus is the breath. Each pose is done to the flow of your breath and then held for 5 counts (hold the pose, not the breath :)  We follow the same 48 poses in the same order every time.

We begin with two sun salutations repeated 5 times, which by the end becomes easy to remember.  Each time you practice after that, you learn the next pose.  As you can remember the new pose in order of the sequence, you learn the next pose.  Then then next.  Sometimes a few practices can pass before you add on another pose.

The Mysore practice is an open one, named for Mysore, India where it was started by Guruji.  When you attend a Mysore practice, every person there starts when they arrive, so no one is working in unison.  You work on your mat on your practice.  You remember your next pose and your breath.  There are teachers there to help you should you forget what comes next, to adjust your pose or help you get into a posture.  They also give you that next pose when you are ready to add onto your practice.

I love it for so many reasons.

-Having to rely on myself to remember the postures keeps me focused.  I can't let my mind wander, I think only about the pose I'm in, keeping my breath even, pulling in my bandahs and then the next pose.  Extremely mentally relaxing while physically challenging.
-It makes me feel strong & graceful.
-It teaches me to stay in the moment when I'm off the mat & into my day.
-No one is paying any attention to me, not at all.
-I never have to rush to make it to a class on time since it's open practice.
-I can take my practice with me and do it anywhere!  (you know, since I'm such a world traveler these days).

Yoga creates the struggle, you breathe through it. 

Replace 'Yoga' with 'traffic', 'baby', 'dinner', 'boss', 'teacher', 'weather'... and what do you do?
You breathe through it  :)

I first learned about Ashtanga when I lived in NYC, and was thrilled when Greenwich was given a dedicated place to practice at Jois.

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