The practice of the Ashtanga Yoga method is a constant process that allows one to work on deepening one’s mind and body. On a physical level, practicing a fixed sequence progressively opens the body — for example, the Ashtanga Primary Series helps open up the hamstrings, hips, and lower back. And as the back gets more flexible, the spine will be able to lengthen more, thus allowing energy to flow freely in the whole body. Moreover, having a flexible back will positively impact one’s overall health and life as information will be able to travel faster through the spinal cord, the breathing will become deeper due to the increase of mobility of the thoracic spine.
On the other hand, on a mental level, the Ashtanga method will immediately make you realize your limitations and capacities as you will be practicing the same sequence every day. This daily repetition allows one to witness how the mind and body’s capacities, strengths, and limitations fluctuate. These daily realizations of the mind and body’s fluctuations and impermanence will eventually lead to self-acceptance, and helps one to become more present instead of being attached to the idea of permanence. When you bring this wisdom into your everyday life, you will understand that just as your mind and body are ever-changing, so is everything else around you — that is why clinging on to the idea of permanence brings one to suffering sooner or later.
These are just some of the most important qualities of the Ashtanga Yoga practice. It gives the practitioner a clearer perception of reality. The practice does not change the reality; but rather, it changes the seer itself.
If you are new to this practice, it is important to keep in mind that the Ashtanga method works layer by layer — beginning with the physical body, then slowly reaching other bodies or layers such as the feeling body, wisdom body, and bliss body. Ashtanga requires the practitioner to commit to the practice on a daily basis to train his/her awareness in order to perceive the subtleties that the practice will gradually reveal.
Enjoy the journey, be patient, and keep practicing!