I had posted in my FB status that I was thinking of what to write for my next blog post and a suggestion was given to write something related to Ashtanga Yoga, like my experience in practicing it (thanks, Gwen!).
So, this post will be about my experience practicing Ashtanga Yoga. My Ashtanga practice only started in Beyoga as there were no Ashtanga Yoga classes in YZ Damas during the evening classes although I did go to a few Ashtanga Intro classes in YZ The Weld. There was a Mysore class in the evening but I did not join the class as it was an advanced Ashtanga Yoga class where you need to know at least the sequence of the Primary series as you will be doing it on your own. The teacher is only there to give some adjustments as appropriate.
Anyway, back to my Ashtanga practice. It has been about four months since I have been going to the Ashtanga Led class on Thurday with Azmi in Beyoga. In an Ashtanga Led class, the teacher will lead the class and instruct the students in the order of the poses, usually in the Primary or Intermediate series. As it is a 90 minutes class, normally, we will do all the poses in the Primary series but Azmi might skip some of the poses which he feels that the students would not be able to do such as Marichyasana D (twisting and binding your hands in a way that seem impossible to do, I am still unable to do this pose without Azmi’s help). Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana (I still can’t do these two poses too!). Sometimes, we get to practice to drop back to Urdhva Dhahurasana, with Azmi providing the support for us to hold onto as we drop back and come back up to standing. The class will end with the posses in the finishing sequence which include Shoulder Stand and Head Stand.
When I started practicing Ashtanga yoga, I find it quite exhausting as it is a vinyasa-style practice and we have to do a lot chaturangas and jump back (the vinyasa between each pose to keep our body warm). But with regular practice, the vinyasas are getting easier as I build up stamina and the chaturangas help to build my arm strength.
What I like about the Ashtanga class is that the practice teaches me to focus on my breathing, drishti and bandhas and with a regular and disciplined practice, I learn to control my breathing, have better awareness and develop my concentration and coordination.
As the poses are in sequence, I can see my own progress in the poses every time I attend the class. I am now able to do the Chakrasana without Azmi’s help and each week, being able to advance further in a pose gives me a sense of achievement.
Ashtanga Yoga will appeal to yogis who like a sense of order as I have heard comments from other practitioners that they find the class boring as the poses are the same every time they go to the class. I find that it takes dedication and discipline to be able to do the poses in their sequence every time as you need to remember the sequence of all the poses in the series if you going to practice on your own.
If you are a beginner to yoga, I would recommend you to go to an Ashtanga class only if you know the fundamental poses such as Sun Salutation A & B, Warrior 1 & 2 and Triangle pose as these are the poses you will be doing at the beginning part of the Primary series.
Ashtanga Yoga synchronizes the breath with the poses to produce internal heat which results in profuse and purifying sweat which detoxifies the body. The result is improved circulation, a supple, light and strong body and a calm mind.
Beyoga has just started an Ashtanga Led class on Sunday at 9.00 am. Come and join the class if you are an Ashtangi and need a place to practice. If you are a beginner, you can join Azmi's Astanga Intro classes at 10 am on Wednesday or Friday at 6.45 pm.