The practice of ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga Yoga in the tradition of Pattabhi Jois has a very practical approach. This makes it very effective for the human mind. It only works though if it is practiced correctly.  Some say that this practice is very rigid and repetitive which makes it hard to stick to. This is a matter of perception. I find it not rigid but simple. It tells me exactly what to do, how to breathe, were to look, what to listen to so that my thought producing disposition is arrested. It forces me to be focussed, to be present. Of course it is repetitive. It is a spiritual practice like the repeating of mantras, Pranayama or meditation. If you confuse it with sport or a hobby, it will seem rigid, repetitive and boring.

 

Doing the same movement, breathing, looking place etc. everyday is a great tool to quieten and bring under control the thinking mind. If we stick to it and can surrender to the repetition and let go of the desire to be entertained, we can in time still our thought stream. Then we can have access to the true intelligence of our being. The constant chitter chatter in our head is not it. 

 

Ironically the practice of this method is often changed to make it more entertaining. If we carry on entertaining our thinking mind it will absorb all our attention. This is defying the purpose of Yoga. The movements in this practice must be carried out in harmony with the breath, bandhas and drishtis. If a posture is difficult, don’t go into it so deeply or stop at the one beforehand. The practice becomes rigid and tense when you have to use all sorts of tools to do an asana perfectly or at all. If you set yourself goals to perform advanced asanas at all costs, you’ll be taking your attention to a future point in time where you might be able to do the asana. You won’t be present. It is not yoga. Your life won’t change with the possibility to do a handstand in the future, it will change with peace of mind now. 

 

 

“The state of mind that is steady in flow, is the source of happiness; it is but peace. He whose mind is steady, finds all success at his door. We with a scattered mind must find the path of yoga, our only door.”

 

—Sri T. Krishnamacharya

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