Wednesday, 15 February 2017
There are 2 schools of Ashtanga Yoga
One is following the teaching of Sri Pattabhi Jois and the other one follows the teaching of Sharat Jois.
Easy answer, with Sharat you are required to stop when you can not do one particular asana completely.
Other teachers who studied with Pattabhi Jois don't stop your practice.
However if you are a real beginner you will be mostly stopped at Prasarrita Padotanasana and then you will be required to repeat the standing series from the beginning at least 2 times before going to the sitting pose. Then on the sitting pose you will be stopped mostly at Marichyasana and then going directly to the backbend sequences.
If you are not a beginner, it will only rely with who you are practicing with the Primary Series wether you will be allowed to do it fully or you will be stopped.
However as soon as you start touching the Secondary Series teachers will give you asana one by one.
First of all when you are not stopped into your primary series because you can not grab in Marichyasana D or can not hook in Supta Kurmasana you are not confronted to your ego and you stay in a peaceful comfort zone. If the teacher notice that you are flexible enough then you will even touch a bit of backbend such as the drop back with assistance which is quite enjoyable and very gratifying!
Therefore when you practice the all series some of the teachers will give you the choice, wether you want to practice full vinyasa or just half vinyasa as Sharat does.
Practicing the all series can actually help you for some asanas where you have some difficulties. As per Manju Jois when he was practicing with Pattabhi Jois "there was no you stop here, we were just practicing yoga".
I do believe that some of the Ashtangis have forgotten that point because now when you have discussion with some of them they explain you why you should stop here because you are not ready for the rest of the series.... actually there is no such any proof about it. What about the yogis who practiced Hatha Yoga and do all back bending without the sequence of the Primary Series?
What about other asana practice where you are not stuck into a sequence and prisoner of one asana? And if I recall it seems also that the Primary Series has changed from the original form, sometimes you find that there is no Janu Shirshana B or C, more or less Paschimotanasana, more or less vinyasa.
However now Sharat is the authority so people who are following Sharat teach the same way as Sharat wants to teach the Primary Series. If tomorrow Sharat decides that no one need to stop there then everybody will follow. So technically there is no "scientific proof" that stopping at one point will help you for other asanas and is protecting you from being hurt....
I will also add that from Supta Kurmasana going directly to the backbend is actually very hard for the lower back, so if at all there is a logic I could not find it and especially during the led class where you stopped as for during this time your body is getting cold for suddenly going directly in Setu Bandhasana.....
Yes however :-)
I have to admit that by stopping my practice at Supta Kurmasana I am learning more about myself and how I am managing my emotions.
As I know that my practice will be shorten I then take more time in each asanas, creating more space into my body and paying more attention to each asanas that are above my infamous Supta Kurmasana. So even though my practice is shorten the intensity and the intention I am putting into it is 200% more than when I am practicing the full sequence.
I am definitely more focus on my breathing and work a lot more my jump back and jump front without cheating at all by placing my hands on the side of my hips instead of placing them forward in order to jump easily. I use more Mula Bandha and at the end of my practice my belly is completely tight and my lower back is completely flat.
And I know for sure that the day I will grab my hands without any assistance I will be completely overwhelmed because it will mean that I did not give up on this particular asana.
As far as I am into my practice I can clearly declare that the Ashtanga Yoga practice has healed my physical body. Since I am practicing it following Sharat rules my knees are not painful anymore (I had surgery on my left knee where meniscus has been removed, my right knee has a patella into pieces and at one point Janu Shirshana was out of my reach because of my torn ligaments) so after all my injuries practicing the Ashtanga has been the best medicine for me that none of the chiropractor, kine, osteopath and so on I have met during my life which were never able to solve my issue.
I will say that now the Ashtanga system is working on my soul, it is touching some parts of my mind and emotions that I have been hiding for so long, I realise that I never let myself be me, really me, completely naked in his pure form of my being.
Each morning I have an appointment with myself and Iain Grysak (which I completely highly recommend to any Ashtangis) has open new perspective to my practice. I will never ever forget what he said "practicing Ashtanga is having a relation ship with yourself".
By practicing Ashtanga in its pure form we are facing our demons, our fears, our joys, our happiness and most of it ourself.
I have to admit that when I will be back to India I will continue my practice but the full series.Why? Because for instance I am missing Baddha Konasana and I do believe that the asana can really help me to improve my Supta Kurmasana by working on the hips opening. I have also added to my personal practice Bekasana because I am in need of more chest and shoulder opening so that is why.
But of course as soon as I will be back to Iain Grysak or Sharat whenever they will say "you stop here" then I will without any hesitation.
Now the last point of it: if you are looking for an experiment Ashtangi to practice with and under his guidance I can not stop praising Iain Grysak. Each morning I feel bless to practice with him and his pranayama/philosophy classes are just pure joy.
With Love & Light forever!!!