Thursday, October 28, 2010

2) How my Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice began

The period 2004-2009
Practically my serious Ashtanga Yoga practice began on Mid July 2010 but my interest in Ashtanga Yoga goes back to 2004 when I completed my Advanced Yoga Teachers Training Course ( ATTC ) at the Sivananda Ashram in India and was motivated to practice Intense Yoga Asana practice and felt that Ashtanga Yoga would be suitable and hence bought the book "Yoga Mala" by Sri .K.Pattabhi Jois .This is the classical book for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and I bought the book on 30 Aug 2004 . Apart from that book I also got the DVD on Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga by Richard Freeman and I got it through a friend of mine from America .These were the initial tools that I had for my practice but I did not get to serious practice as I felt the Ashtanga System too complicated with its long asana list and  various vinyasas for each posture and I felt that it was not my cup of tea and hence left it and continued to practice the Sivananda System of Classical Hatha Yoga as taught by Swami Vishnu devananda .
The Period 2009 - July 2010
After I completed my Sadhana Intensive Course ( SI ) in Jan 2009 at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai I felt motivated to expand beyond the Sivananda System as I have now completed all the 3 levels at the Sivananda System i.e my Teachers Training Program ( TTC ) in 1998 , ATTC in 2004 and SI in 2009 and again in 2010 .A sense of saturation came to me and I felt that I need to move ahead and learn more .I started to look in to Yoga Teachings of senior Yoga Teachers like BKS Iyengar , Judith Lasater , Donna Farhi ,John Schumacher ,Sarah Powers ( Yin Yoga ) , Esther Myers , Vanda Scravelli ,Jill Miller ,Sadie Nardini , Seane Corn and Shiva Rea .I bought books of the above teachers and also some of their DVDs and also went through their articles /posts on Internet and watched their videos on You Tube .I also tried following some of their routines and practices but was not motivated enough to continue further with anyone .During this period I suddenly developed an intense pain in my lower left back and I did not know the cause of the same but it was creating lot of discomfort . I did not know the cause of the discomfort as I did not lift anything heavy or did any intense Asana practice to hurt my lower back .So I Searched the internet for the likely causes and came across the reason for my pain as SI ( Sacro Illiac ) Joint pain that comes to regular yoga practitioners .I felt that one reason for this pain could be due to my weak lower back or weak core and since Sivananda System did not address the core region I felt I need to focus on some other exercise system that addressed the Core region and came across Pilates as the right tool to strengthen my core first and heal my lower back pain .So I bought books and DVDs  related to Pilates Practice and did try some of them .They were good no doubt but since the breathing system in Pilates is different from that in Yoga I did not have the feeling of doing a real workout as I was not getting the same  feeling that I get by doing yoga so I gave it up .Around this time I found out that my  lower back pain started slowly healing and I did not find much discomfort and so started to continue with my basic Sivananda Practice .
In Jan 2010 I redid my SI course at the Sivananda Ashtram in Madurai and that was an excellent opportunity for me to deepen my Yoga Sadhana . After the course I again felt the need to go beyond the Sivananda System and learn something new that not only enriches me but will also add value to my students .So I restarted with my exploration of alternative systems and this time moved beyond Yoga to explore other Movement Therapies like Tai Chi , Undulation , Fieldenkrais method etc and did buy books /CDs and DVDs of the same and did try them but before I could explore deeper in to any one of them I met with a very severe ankle injury during my trip to Kumbakonam, a temple town in Tamil Nadu  . There was no fracture in the ankle but the ligament was severely damaged and I could not walk  properly and was on medicines and physio therapy .I thought it would heal within a week or so but it was actually taking months and I could not do even the Soorya Namaskar .I felt very frustrated by the same because in year 2009 a major part of my time was spent fighting the lower back pain but in 2010 I was confronted by a new ankle injury .I was using this opportunity to do very gentle yoga practice and lot of pranayama and meditation but deep down I was very upset that I could not do yoga asanas intensively and while the ankle was getting healed a little bit It was nearly 3 months since I did any serious yoga practice and that resulted me in putting on more weight and the ankle was yet to be fully healed .This created more frustration in me and I decided that enough is enough and that I needed to get back to my serious practice of  Yoga and I wanted to do some intense workout to make up for the loss of practice for more than 3 months .
Mid July 2010 onwards 
That was the time in Mid July 2010  I came across Shiva Rea's Audio CD that I bought few months back and started to try out the same . When I went through the booklet supplied along with the CD I found out that it had the Surya Namaskar sequence similar to the Ashtanga Surya Namaskar A& B and some of the other postures were also copied from the Ashtanga Sequence . This was the time I found out that many yoga teachers who were promoting a dynamic form of Yoga like Shiva Rea , Seane Corn , etc were actually copying the Ashtanga Vinyasa  System and modifying them to their own respective styles . So I decided that instead of getting caught up in various confusing styles of dynamic yoga /flow vinyasa yoga why not go to the Original source i.e Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and start from there and that was the time I went through the internet again downloaded the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Surya Namaskar A & B Charts , went through their videos on You Tube and started practicing the same on my own .It was quite a challenge for me as i) I was not used to this new Soorya Namaskar Vinyasa ii) my ankle injury was yet to be healed and iii) I was restarting my yoga after a gap of nearly 3 months,but in spite of that I found the practice to be very excellent in that it gave me lot of energy , a new energy that I was experiencing for the first time after a long gap . I decided then and there that Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga   is what I have been seeking right from 2009 and I had to find it out in a round about way after 2 injuries .So from Mid July 2010 onwards I have started to practice Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga as taught by Sri K.Pattabhi Jois and have got hooked to it and have decided to keep this Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga as my main yoga sadhana for the next decade i.e from 2010-2020 .How far I will be successful in this is yet to be seen but I am really happy to have found Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga .
In mid July 1997 I was very thrilled to have found the Sivananda System of Yoga and practiced it with full dedication for more than 10 years and also successfully completed all its 3 levels of training ( TTC ,ATTC ,SI ) and also visited its Head Quarters in Val Morin ,Quebec ,Canada for the purpose of Yoga Vacation and was immensely benefited by the teachings of its founder and my first Yoga Guru Swami Vishnu devananda and will be every grateful to him for bringing me on the path of Yoga and I will still continue to teach the Sivananda System of Classical Hatha Yoga to my students as I believe that it is an excellent system for beginners and for people( like housewives , busy professionals  etc )  who have less time to dedicate to yoga . Even when I become proficient to teach the Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga I would still keep teaching the Sivananda System of Classical Hatha Yoga to beginners and people interested in a more gentle approach to yoga . So by practicing the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga I am not abandoning the Sivananda System of Classical Hatha Yoga but only complementing my own knowledge and skill in Yoga and I am currently using it to only raise my level and deepen my practice and explore through my own self practice  the benefits of Ashtanga Vinaysa Yoga  as claimed by its founder Sri  K.Pattabhi Jois . More in my next post .


  1. Much fun with your blog and your Ashtanga practice. Both activities support each other is my experience.
    Ha, I wanted to be the first to comment. Done.

  2. Thanks Ursula for your first comment . Your blog was my first Ashtanga Blog that I came across and it took me to other Ashtanga Blogs and from there I got hooked to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and I am thankful to you for the same .Even this blog is a sort of inspiration after reading your blog along with other Ashtanga Yoga blogs .

  3. Once again Ursula thanks for your first comment .

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