Ashtanga is where it’s at for me these days. The set sequence is wonderfully familiar, and I know exactly how I’ll feel when I finish. I love knowing that where I’m at in a pose is simply a transition for the next version of that pose. I love knowing where I’m going and can appreciate where I’ve been. I love being able to take it a little easier or rev it up and work a little harder.
So where to start with Ashtanga?
This video with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is a beautiful example of what this practice looks like for super humans. Don’t expect to do what they are doing your first (or one hundredth) try! It’s aspirational and inspirational.
This one with Lesley Fightmaster is a great one to use while you practice. A fellow yoga teacher sent me a link to this a while back, and I have used it several times when I want a more class like practice. Basically sometimes I just want to be told what to do and not think about anything.
My favorite book to use for this practice is by David Swensen it’s Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. The book breaks down all the poses to help you find the right version for your practice. We are all in different places so I love that there is this guide to find the one posture that will work for you in your practice. He lists out individual poses then gives you the Primary and Intermediate sequences. What’s also really nice is the shorter 15, 30, or 45 minutes sequences for those days you don’t have time to do the full practice.
I am not as disciplined as most Ashtanga people. I don’t chant. I don’t practice 6 days a week. I don’t do the full primary series every time. Basically I’m taking what I love from the practice and tweaking it for myself. Maybe I can’t be considered a true Ashtangi (is that what they are called?) but I’m okay with that. This practice makes me feel good, and when I feel good I’m a better person, and that is what is most important in yoga. Feel good, be good.