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Ayurvedic Thai Yoga Therapy

Bliss

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a systemic combination of hatha postures, a specific breathing method and concentrated practice of energy as prescribed by Sri K. Pattabhis Jois and his teacher Sri T. Krishnamacharya of Mysore, India. From their collaboration together of the Yoga Kurunta text by Vamana Rishi, students are moved rhythmically with their own breath as toxins are secreted from the body and obstacles are removed from the mind. Within this dynamic and spiritual study of movement, breath, heat and concentration, unfolds a natural development of strength, flexibility, perseverance, and grace.

Vinyasa, translated to mean "purposeful placement," is no less an understatement of not only the flowing methodic transitions from one sequence of postures to the next, but also the ritualistic maintaince of energy locks (bandhas), breath, and gaze. It is in an effort to control heat naturally and direct energy upward within the body, that bandhas are incorporated. Mula bandha, the root lock, draws energy up the spine by lifting the base of the body towards the naval. Uddiyana bandha, the flying up or naval lock, is activated by lifting the core muscles in and upward while expanding the breath in the upper torso. It is directed that both mula bandha and uddiyana bandha are maintained throughout the practice in an effort of gaining lightness and ease of body. Jalandhara bandha, throat lock, bringing the chin to meet the chest at the base of the throat is less often used, but essential to lengthening the neck and upper spine, regulating breath, and concentrating energy back into the body.

The sound of the ocean best represents the sound of ujjayi breathing. Keeping the breath entirely through the nose, slightly narrowing or constricting the back of the throat to sound like the ocean when breathing. This breath is most powerful mentally and physically - traslated to mean "victorious breath." Should you find that the mind still wanders, the drishti, translated to sight or gazing place, is specific in each posture to a point on the body to maintain balance and focus. Whether it is reaching your toes through your gaze or meeting your wrist from behind, if you lose your concentration, you will lose the posture. The essence in the practice of this challenging form of yoga is to maintain a steady breath and mind regardless of where and how your body is placed.

In each of the different series, all of the postures are executed in the same order each time allowing for realization through repitition. This increased awareness of a greater self is illuminated within the invocation at the beginning of each class and the closing prayer. Even the postures are announced and the breath syncopated in the sacred Sanskrit language with which all previous teachers have come to learn. It is with effort and commitment that mastery is attained and additional levels of practice are introduced ~ opening the doorways to greater paths of enlightenment.

Students should be prepared for not only a challenging class (bring a towel and water for after), but a life changing path. Peeling away the layers of ourselves allows for glimpses of who we really are beneath. Let your own love light shine.

Read also:
Yoga Mala by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Ashtanga Yoga by David Swenson

What to expect

Movement and sweat ~ all aboard the Ashtanga train! Bring a large beach/bath towel or rug for your mat to protect against slippage and another for your brow. Drink plenty of water before and after class as it is advised not to drink during practice... it dowses the energy you worked hard to create. Do not eat 2 hours prior to practice or enjoy something light like a piece of fruit. Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely, yet not so baggy that it falls over your head in a standing forward bend. Also, be advised that zippers and buttons may get in the way.