Ashtanga Yoga School Charlotte teaches traditional Ashtanga in the lineage of Sri K Pattabhi Jois
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passedRead more
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By Shanna Small
“The practice of Yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for self examination and help us to understand that we are not the masters of everything we do.”-TKV Desikachar
Making shapes, without self reflection on the internal space, results in a practice that gives unsustainable results. The high right after Yoga is short term. Equanimity is long term. The ability to execute a Yoga pose is short term and subject to factors such as health, age and the absence of hardship. The internal fortitude, gained while working on these poses, is long term.
The focus of Yoga is usually on the parts that are not sustainable. These are the easiest to see and to acquire so it makes sense that we start there. The benefits that are sustainable are the hardest to acquire and the ones least likely to be worked on. However, these are the benefits that keep people on their mat for 10, 20, 30 years. These are the ones that get people up in the morning.
The deep internal benefits are the ones that make us into good people, not just when everything is going our way, but also when everything is falling apart.
This only happens when our Yoga practice is allowed to change us. For many, Yoga just shifts their aggression, anger, angst, shame,fear, worthlessness and unhappiness for a little while. It must be allowed to go so deep that all the path ways to our suffering are eradicated.
For this to occur, we have to let go of our excuses and reasons for why we are angry, fearful or unhappy. Yoga asks that we accept how we feel, let go of the story and embark on a new way to live. It asks us to accept that we are not the masters of everything we do. That our pain and suffering is guiding us and it is a hideous master and we must refuse to be its willing servant.
In Mysore, I asked Sharath what he meant by perfection in asana. He answered, and I paraphrase, that perfection was being able to dissolve yourself in the asana. Being one with it. He said that sometimes, “he” is just gone. He doesn’t know where “he” is.
When we practice, we are not looking for a certain look to an asana. We are looking for a certain quality. As Claire Pip Cullipher spoke of so beautifully today, the quality is ease. It is in that ease that we can dissolve the self created story of “I” and just be.
Ease does not mean that each pose looks like a Yoga Journal photograph. It doesn’t even mean that the pose is easy!! Ease is seen in the full complete breath. It is in the serene look on the face. It is seen in the soft but steady gaze towards the drishti. It is seen in the compassionate receptive energy.
On the mat, Ashtanga automatically silences the voices of negativity in our minds. When practice is correct, meaning your eyes are on a drishti, your breath is full and resonant, your focusing on an asana,and the Vinyasa is on count, you don’t have space to think!!! All of this activity keeps you rooted in the present. if the voices come, I guarantee you that either the pose, the breath, the gaze or the Vinyasa count is incorrect.
The same is true for your life. If the voices come, you have taken your focus from the present moment. Connect back to life in the present moment and they will start to recede. Hug your children. Read a good book. Eat something delicious. Tell the voices to shut up by reconnecting with life.
Modern-day sage Gregor Maehle states: “When we make the body perfect, we make nothing but the ego perfect.”
As the asanas become more complex in yoga practice, one’s mind learns better how to adapt to and manage the challenging circumstances of life. Any physical depth or asana complexity should be CONSCIOUSLY LINKED to the mind’s ability to be cool and gracefully composed.
HENCE, PHYSICAL DEPTH IS NOT THE POINT OF THE POSTURES! Mental detachment (vairagya) is the ultimate mission.
Once the mind is RELIABLY TRAINED to be unbound by the physical, then asana complexity should have a LESS POWERFUL ATTRACTION in your practice. The mind itself will eventually train the mind and the employment of less physical energy will be a new goal.
You will THEN feel greater internal power, your asana practice will become more EFFICIENT and your TRANQUIL STATE will be less and less tied to asana practice at all. You will be able to access deeper and deeper levels of training through the avenue of the MIND ITSELF and drop your focus on the body more and more.
What Students Say
It's a daily practice, a life long journey, and, although this is just the beginning, I can already see, and feel the changes it's making in my life. I have a tendency of trying to protect my heart by staying guarded, which keeps me in the past. I've learned that in trying to protect my heart, I have kept myself from, truly, giving and showing love, as well as receiving love. I am beyond thankful to my teachers for pushing me, believing in me, and being such an inspiration.........and for showing me that what I fear the most, is exactly what I need! This practice makes me emotional, in a wonderful way........it's in my soul, and my heart! Ashtanga is a way of life on and off your mat, and this is only the beginning!
Thank you Mara for a great practice today. You are my magical unicorn. Ha. I can't say enough about Ashtanga yoga and the group of teachers we have Y2Yoga. For people who need a little motivation...I've lost 9 pounds in just 11 days and my chronic joint pain is going away off the mat. All I'm doing different is adding Ashtanga to my yoga practice. Ashtanga chages you on a cellular level. It just makes other yoga classes more powerful. It is freedom. I am so blessed and grateful.