If the word Ashtanga intimidates you, it might be because it’s deeply rooted in intense transformation, dynamic bodily connection, and arguably one of the most difficult forms of yoga. Ashtanga yoga has captivated many people with its unique blend of strength, flexibility, and endurance.
However, before you dive into this ancient and technical practice, you should consider several factors that will ensure a safe and fruitful journey. We discuss a few things to consider before practising Ashtanga yoga in this quick read.
Understanding Ashtanga Yoga
Firstly, understanding what Ashtanga yoga entails is vital. Originating from ancient India, Ashtanga yoga is a structured vinyasa-style practice that follows a specific sequence of poses. It integrates breath, movement, and drishti (gaze) into a meditative flow.
The intense physicality of Ashtanga yoga can be challenging, so be aware of this before stepping onto the mat and giving it a go. Consider joining a Mysore studio or taking advanced yoga teacher training so you can deepen your existing practice and begin training your body to take on the structured asanas (postures).
The second point to consider is your physical readiness, and this is where a studio or advanced training may be most beneficial. Ashtanga yoga is physically demanding, requiring strength, flexibility, and stamina. Having a good level of fitness before starting is beneficial, but remember that everyone begins somewhere.
Do not be discouraged if you are not as flexible or as strong as you would like to be. Regular practice will help improve these aspects over time. Plus, something really unique about yoga is how quickly practitioners experience physical gains, whether in flexibility or strength.
Finding the Right Teacher
Thirdly, finding an experienced and qualified teacher is crucial. Ashtanga yoga is best learned under the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor. They can correct your alignment, guide you through the sequences, and help modify poses to suit your ability.
Joining your local Mysore studio is your first option. Otherwise, you can join a virtual community of yogis through a school or online programme. Consider weighing the pros and cons of an in-person versus online experience as it relates to your needs.
Commitment to Practice
Ashtanga yoga requires dedication and commitment. It typically entails six days of practice a week, with rest on the seventh day. Consistency is key in Ashtanga yoga, and this is one of the key things to consider before you begin practising. Can you commit to regular sessions? For many people, joining a group or studio holds an accountability factor that is beneficial when adhering to a six-day schedule.
Listening to Your Body
Lastly, always listen to your body. While pushing your limits can lead to growth, respecting your body’s boundaries is important. If you feel pain or discomfort during a pose, ease out of it. Don’t let ego drive your practice; instead, let mindfulness and self-awareness guide you.
Embarking on the journey of Ashtanga yoga can be transformative—physically, emotionally, and mentally. You must approach it with understanding, preparedness, and respect for your body. The healing powers of meditation and movement shine brightly in a structured Ashtanga yoga practice, so consider giving it a go if the philosophy and physicality resonate with you.