Saturday, December 18, 2010

The inner game of Ashtanga yoga

We all have to start somewhere:
First we see an asana, a vinyasa and we want to bring our body in the same position (if we want to practice Ashtanga yoga of course). My bf is not so ambitious to sit in lotus pose or to do headstand. Hahahaha.
What can be seen at first sight is the surface.

When my practice has progressed (after years), the attention has moved from the surface to what happens inside myself. To play the inner game of Ashtanga yoga helps to improve the surface:
1. Engaging the bandhas (mulha bandha (pelvis floor) and uddyjana bandha (navel in)) gives strength. It helps to stretch forward and gives stability.
2. The breath not only calms the mind, when steady and even and deep. The deep inhaling allows me to lengthen the body. The exhaling allows me to go deeper in the pose.
3. Engaging the muscles protects from injuries.
4. The attitude that we exercise on the mat has also an important influence on what we are able to accomplish. Thinking "it's doable", "being committed, but relaxed at the same time" is supportive.
5. The movement of the eyes, drishti, belong to the more subtle parts of Ashtanga yoga. 

The outer form is important. For sure. The inner game of Ashtanga yoga supports to perform the asanas and vinyasas. The practice becomes more intensive when it comes from the inside. It can be seen if someone has shifted the practice to a deeper level, but one has to look closer. If someone breathes deeply, if the bandhas are used can be seen. If the body is forced into an asana or if the movement comes from the core of the body can be seen, too. Enjoy the inner game of Ashtanga yoga. It's more subtle than the surface, but equally beautiful.

PS: It can be a question when practicing an asana/vinyasa: Do I play the inner game of Ashtanga yoga?

My last two primary sessions at home were great. I'm a bit less distracted than I used to be.
The mind will be surely a topic of next year.

Much fun with the inner game of Ashtanga yoga. Stay relaxed with a slight smile on your face.


Francisca said...

Dear Ursula,

As the year is coming to the end, I want to thank you for posting such interesting notes about ashtanga practice in your blog.It has indeed helped me to build a more consistent practice.
I wish you all the best for the new year !

Ursula said...

Dear Francisca,

Thank you for writing this. Reading your comment, I know that I couldn't have spent my time better.

I wish you a wonderful new year, too and many many practices.

Quentin said...

When you practice Mysore, do you take extra time on the poses that need improvement? rather than move thru each pose weaving breath, the bandhas, and focus? JB suggested that I focus more time with Mysore practice and work on poses that are challenging for me rather than the traditional led class that focuses on breath, bandhas, and dristhi. This makes sense and I wondered is this what you do at your Mysore class? rather than the inner game of Ashtanga Yoga?

Chakra said...

Dear Ursula

This is a great post. Reflecting on not what happening to your body externally but to your mind and soul internally is a great insight to all of us. I am very much benefited by yyour posts. Happy holidays and advance Happy New Year!!

from Chakra

Ursula said...

Dear Chakra,
Thank you for reading and happy new year to you, too filled with many enlightening practices....:)

Ursula said...

Dear Quentin,

The inner game of Ashtanga yoga is more important than anything else. I stick very close to the given asanas, but I add a few....