Astanga yoga is, to put it mildly, physically demanding. The sun salutations are strong, the standing postures challenging, and, to top it all, if you want to complete the Primary series, you need to master an advanced asana practise, integrate a new breathing technique (ujiai breathing), learn how to focus your gaze, and squeeze and lift your perineum, all at the same time.
It is safe to say that you are not guaranteed instant success. Instead, you can be quite sure that you are going to fail – over and over again. Luckily, in yoga, as in life, it’s not our successes that connect us, but our struggles. It’s also true that inner peace happens when you realize you don’t have anything to prove. Therefore, the harder you find a posture, the more kindness, tolerance, patience and acceptance you can bring into your practise. That’s how yoga works its real magic
In this context, the recipe for success in Astanga becomes the following:
1) Focus on the breathe, not the pose. Once you realise the importance of staying connected to the breath, it no longer matters whether or not you can perform the pose to perfection.
2) Work more on waking up consciousness of the body, than achieving the pose. Practice being with your body in a space of loving-kindness. When you feel the urge to force or push, stop.
3) Commit to the practise. Don’t give up, especially when it feels overwhelming. Getting on your mat even for five minutes a day is a win.
4) Congratulate yourself for every small step forward you take.
5) Enjoy the community aspect of the practise. Connect with others, cherish others and support each other. Make friends, and practise appreciation, tolerance and respect of self and others.
6) Most importantly of all, remember to savour the moment, and have fun.
If, after reading this, you would still like to try Astanga, know that in our Beginners Astanga class we start small and build up the practice in achievable chunks. Astanga is a good yoga choice for people who like learning routines, enjoy a challenge and have no major health issues.
New beginners courses start on
Tue 8th Oct, 6.30am-7.30am – £40. Teacher, Kelly Griffiths.
Wed 16th Oct – 5.45pm-6.45pm – £42. Teacher, Rachel Lightbird.