Ashtanga Yogi Community

General Category => Ask a Yogi! => Topic started by: Robert on September 22, 2004, 10:11:54 PM

Title: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: Robert on September 22, 2004, 10:11:54 PM
Hi David,

I've been practicing ashtanga for about a year now, the primary series up to Navasana, and the finishing poses. Lately I've been wondering about alignment--should I try for Iyengar-style alignment in the poses, or is Ashtanga more flexible (or less doctrinaire, as the case may be) in its approach to alignment?

Thanks,
Robert
Title: Re: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: davidmaui on September 23, 2004, 03:05:03 PM
Dear Robert,
I have never learned Iyengar Yoga, so I cannot compare Iyengar Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga.
OM,
David
Title: Re: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: Robert on October 04, 2004, 04:56:35 AM
Dear David,

OK, bad question. What I'm really looking for is
advice and not comparison. Are there any guidelines
for alignment in Ashtanga? Or should I forget about how
the postures look--just focus on the bandhas and breath
and let the practice develop naturally?

Thanks,
Robert
Title: Re: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: Rick on October 06, 2004, 11:16:27 AM
Good question Robert, I hear people ask this a lot. For myself, I maintain as much awareness as possible as I move through the postures and give my attention to different parts of the body at different times. For instance, during the 5 breaths of downward facing dog I roam my attention throughout the body, paying particular attention to the tilt of the pelvis and what that does to the shape of the spine. Some people I know who have studied with Iyengar have made a science out of alignment, but I haven't. What I've learned from them is how to notice when a certain alignment is causing pain, and then I adjust my pose.

Rick
Title: Re: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: David on October 07, 2004, 05:23:29 PM
Dear Robert,

When I was learning Ashtanga Yoga from K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore in the early/mid '70's, Guruji did not speak English and oral guidelines were not offered.  I learned the order of the asanas by watching more advanced Indian students do their practice, and then I did the practice when my turn came.  To have a conversation, Guruji and I had to have a translator present. 

Now, after more than 30 years of uninterrupted daily practice, my advice to you is, as you suggested, to "focus on the bandhas and the breathe and let the practice develop naturally".  Your should certainly be aware of "how the postures look", but remember that "what's important is what's invisible".  Move from posture to posture briskly and focus on the bandhas and deep continuous breathing.
Practice makes perfect.  It you keep up your daily practice for the next 50+ years and avoid injury, you should be in as good alignment for yourself, as is possible.  As a supplement to your efforts, deep tissue massage and structural reintegration will be beneficial.

Yours in Yoga,

David





Title: Re: Alignment in Ashtanga
Post by: Robert on October 14, 2004, 10:15:39 PM
Dear David,

Thanks for your reply--I now have a much better idea of how to go about my practice. And thank you, Rick, for sharing your experience.

Best,
Robert