Ashtanga from a western perspective

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Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a system that is famous for being rigid, painful, and very difficult. Most of the time, these qualities are embraced by some teachers and presented as the only valid approach but is not necessary the nature of this type of practice. When I started to practice Ashtanga 12 years ago, I also got this understanding, and actually, I got a lot of pain, my body, back, and knees; that it took a long time to heal. Was the moment when I met Larry that a new approach to Ashtanga was presented? He shows me that it is possible and necessary to modify the poses to make them accessible to our body type.

When I attend my 200Hrs Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training at It’s Yoga with Larry and Maire, I was introduced to a more healing perspective of the Ashtanga method. I learned many different modifications that allow the body to heal and open faster; only then I understand how vital modifications are.

When Ashtanga started to appear has been mentioned according to the existed information that Krishnamacharya learned from his master Rammamohama Brahmacharya around 1919 at the mountain Kailash near the Himalaya. In India, Yoga has never been presented as an isolated practice; on the other hand, it has always been presented as an integral part of life and society. This is very important because if the practice was learned by Krishnamacharya around that time or designed by Pattabhi Jois around 1930, as others believe, society and lifestyle were quite different back then. During this time people use to walk, more than drive and not spend many hours seat behind the desk as what we can find these days in the west

In India, people always sit and squat on the floor, which is their position for many activities like eating, waiting, defecating, drinking coffee or chai, and others. These means that this body type will have a lot of flexibility in the back, hips, and knee and a sequence like primary series as we practice today can be approach without the need of modifications

In the west the social dynamic is different, we spend most of the time in chairs, using the cell phone and computers, which mean that our hips, knees, and back will be very tied, this body type will encounter many limitations during a sequence like primary series, here is where approaches like what Larry introduced are so crucial because allows the body the necessary space and time to slowly adapt and increase the need it mobility that will make the practice accessible and safe

As we have the opportunity to meet students with different backgrounds, we always emphasize the importance of modifications. Modifications not necessarily mean beginners; for us means that you understand your body capacities and limitations, it means that you connect with your body, and you can see clearly what is serve you and what can harm you. The choice is yours

“Modify the practice until the practice suits your body needs.”

Larry Schultz


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