Is your ashtanga yoga practice free of any contamination?
If the answer is yes, you’re highly likely a very traditional ashtangi.
Nonetheless, is that useful for you?
I know, I know, another controversial theme in the Ashtanga Yoga World! On my yoga journey, I have met quite a few ashtanga yoga teachers who highly recommend to avoid practicing any other yoga style as that would bastardize your ashtanga practice.
And, notwithstanding the desire of learning more, in the beginning I followed the recommendation! For 3 years of regular/daily practice! Than I met my beloved who is an Anusara Yoga practitioner and – you know how it happens 🙂 – you want to experience what the other does and… a new horizon opened up in front of me.
Ashtanga yoga attitude
The way ashtanga yoga is currently taught, at least quite a few places around Europe where I have attended classes, bring little attention to alignment, little focus on how to enter or exit a posture not to say zero attention at all on preparatory poses for more difficult ones… Sure, it is a matter of prioritizing other aspects of the practice, mainly the rhythm… but I definitely do not share the mindset ‘just try it, eventually it will come!’. Our body is our tool for spiritual advancement and I value those teachers that know about it and do not rely only on the trial-and-error learning process for their students. I believe students deserve more.
Anusara yoga attitude
And this is what I gained from my 2 years teacher training in anusara yoga (and that is independently of all the fuss there was about its founder): a different approach to the body and the asanas, the learning of basic principles to safely enter, stay and exit postures, building on more difficult poses step-by-step. And just applying those basic rules – which are definitely simple though not easy – I found my body opening more and more, in less time and in a safer way. And not only, it worked on making myself more open-minded and more knowledgeable about the bigger yoga family. So yes, it definitely affected my ashtanga practice and my ashtanga teaching, for the better!
Today my choice is to stick to ashtanga tradition and the difference is in the word choice! Every morning on my mat I choose to practice the traditional ashtanga sequence while at the same time applying the principles and the body knowledge I have acquired through other yoga styles and studies and whenever I decide to do something different is with awareness. Same when I teach.
“As bees savour the nectar in various flowers, so the sadhaka absorbs things in other faiths which will enable him to appreciate his own faith better.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
What’s your personal experience? Leave a comment.