Last Saturday we had a workshop with G who is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher. He informed us how Ashtanga yoga is taught these days in Mysore/Gokulam.
Some alterations make so much sense.
When I did the surya namaskaras I usually moved my arms above the head on the sides of my body. This is absolutely OK when the shala is not crowded. Sometimes when one mat was next to the other with a few inches distance only, I took care. So my attention was divided. Sometimes I raised my arms in front of me, sometimes on the sides. But why make it so difficult.
Sometimes one had to fear that the arms of the yoginis next to me met me and the other way round, too.
In India the shala is always crowded. There is almost no distance between the mats. The arms rise above the head in front of the body these days. That's what they teach. It feels absolutely perfect. In Ashtanga yoga we don't arch back. We stretch the body upwards. To rise the arms in front of the body doesn't make the movement more difficult.
When folding forward the arms remain stretched. There is no prayer position in between. I saw this not only once. Yet this is not what one shall do.
I think that this alteration is also an improvement. It respects the space of the yogini next to us.