ashtanga hatha yoga sadhana

ashtanga hatha yoga sadhana
“yoga changed my life; ashtanga changed my yoga”
There is lots of misunderstanding around all these terms, maybe “sadhana” is the most straight forward one; Sanskrit for practice. A sadhaka is a practitioner. The other terms have different meanings depending on who is asked. Ahimsaka is not interested in categorizing or labeling any of these words. Next to the yama & niyama’s there is only one more “rule” in yoga; no dogma’s! Yoga is more going against traditions, rather to establish them, it is learning about your tendencies, your habits. Same applies for society and its tendencies. Yoga is honoring the diversity of nature. It is about body (mind & breath) awareness and karma. We are all different yet the same. That is yoga (sanskrit for “to yoke, or union”). Hatha, coming from Ha and Tha, meaning Sun and Moon, the two opposite energies of the body, the pingala and the ida nadi’s (energy lines in the body). Hatha yoga’s purpose is to join those 2 forces, creating synergy and a stronger more balanced (kundalini) energy. The system it uses is based on the 8 folded path set out by Pantanjalim.  Asthanga referring to the eight fold path of yoga, is in that way the same as Hatha yoga, using both the same foundation.
Pattabhi Jois created a beautiful asana (Sanskrit for “to sit, or to take a seat”) sequence, linked together with vinyasa (sanskrit for” to place in a certain way”) and the breath (calm deep breathing) from his own experience and his knowledge from his teacher Krishnamacharya (who also taught B.K.S. Iyengar). The sequence is a system (a system in a system), and developed into what is now know as the primary series, intermediate series (2nd ) and advanced A, B,C, D. The Sanskrit name for primary series is “yoga chikitsa”, meaning “to purify’. The main purpose of this sequence is to purify the body & mind and prepare it for- and developing a yoga practice. The 2nd series is named; “nadi shodhana”; and its purpose is to strengthen the body. The next series are called Sthira Bhaga (sublime serenity) from where the sadhaka (practitioner) enters into realms of being a yogi..and receiving the benefits it brings with it. It are not only the asana’s that are linked together here, all the different limbs of yoga are joined together within the sequence. The breath is opening up the body, is calming the mind, is working on the focus, the yama’s & niyama’s are contemplated, and within all this intensity the ego drops away. The great thing about  practicing a sequence is that the students can do it on his or her own, developing a home based practice. Centuries ago a yogi used to seclude him or her self, completely devoting to the yoga practice. A set sequence enables the student to this again.
Ahimsaka’s own morning practice is the Ashtanga Series  taught by his teacher Balu Thevar. Which is slightly different from the sequence taught at the  KPJAYI institute. The classes Ahimsaka conducts are inspired on the Ashtanga sequence and Hatha yoga. They can be complimentary to a practice, or go more into depth of certain aspects of the practice. The 3-days “ashtanga immersions”, are much more focused on the ashtanga primary series. Please refer to the schedule for the focus and content of the classes.
the following information is a guide line for the more ashtanga primary series focused classes;
Modifications in the primary sequence;

  • variation on utthita hasta padangustasana A; not bringing head to knee.
  • variation on utthita hasta padangustasana C; bringing knee to head, leg higher.
  • added vrksasana (inbetween utthita hasta padangustasana D and ardha baddha padmottanasana).
  • added janu sirsasana D, or parivritta janu sirsasana, after janu sirsasana C.
  • added variation on supta padangustasana after supta janu sirsanana C.

Do the poses for yourself for a couple of times, become aware of their effects, their benefits and then decide for yourself if you think you want to keep it into your own practice.
Options in practice;

  • Complete vinyasa; doing complete vinyasa back to samathihi. (standing pose)
  • Full vinyasa; after each half asana, doing a vinyasa back to downward dog and back into the asana again (in to the pose vinyasa – right side – vinyasa – left side – vinyasa out of the pose)
  • Half vinyasa; after each complete asana doing a vinyasa back to downward dog and into the following asana.
  • No vinyasa

When and where to stop;
Ahimsaka encourage the student to listen to his or her own body; the body will tell you when to stop. The ego is the one that often forces the body into an asana. The sequence can be learned by asana apart or as a sequence together. With the first option the students masters one asana first and then moving to the following on. The later option, taking the sequence as a whole, the student works on mastering the whole sequence, doing the asana’s he or she is able to do, and for the ones that are not possible yet; doing alternatives asana’s or leaving them out.
Personal modifications and variations;
Depending where the student is in his or her practice, Ahimsaka can give modifications, variations and suggestions, to enable the student practice and tailor the set sequence to the student.
Props or not;
Props can be very useful, they can teach a student a lot about the asana and about his or her own body and mind. The guide line Ahimsaka uses is not to get depended on the prop. Use a prop on alternate days for example. A prop can be anything that supports the student with the asana; a block, a belt, but also a mat, a hot room, a mirror and also a teacher.
LED class and Mysore style class;
Led class; a teacher is leading a class, and the students follow uniformly.
Mysore style; the student practices on his or her own pace, a teacher will assist (adjust) were necessary.
for more information; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashtanga_Vinyasa_Yoga , http://kpjayi.org/
“And do not forget; do not make the method an end in it self!”

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