I have been promising this ashtanga backbend video for a long time. Along with it, I feel like I should also provide an explanation of ashtanga and how it’s different than attending a typical yoga class.
Ashtanga is a style of yoga. What makes it so unique is that it is self-led and you practice a set series that is committed to memory. Ashtanga originated in Mysore, India and was started by Pattabhi Jois in the 1940s. Although Pattabhi has passed away, thousands of yogis still travel to Mysore each year to practice at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute.
I started practicing ashtanga about a year and a half ago and it has changed my yoga practice. Having your own personal practice and not having to be led by a teacher is a very powerful thing. I find ashtanga to be totally meditative. My body just goes into auto-pilot as I move through the series. My body has also opened in new ways due to the challenging postures that are included in ashtanga that you wouldn’t practice in your every day class. This includes difficult binds, hip opening and back bending. It’s a very physical practice because you take a vinyasa between every pose. That’s pretty much like doing 50 tricep pushups in one practice! I am currently focusing on primary series although I do dabble in second series on occasion.
I usually practice ashtanga at the studio. Sometimes I attend classes where a teacher is available to assist you in poses but other times I practice on my own. I try to get 2-3 ashtanga practices in per week. It’s one of those things that you have to practice regularly for it to feel good. It’s difficult at first and takes your body a while to adjust and open to it. Also, it can be frustrating in the beginning because you do have to memorize the series. It took me several months to get it down. I thought about it all the time and would play it in my mind to put myself to sleep at night. Crazy yogi, I know. 😉
One of my favorite things about the practice is the back bending series. You perform this at the end of primary series before moving into the closing postures. It took me over a year to get this down and I’m still working to improve my form and flow.
So…here it is! Let me know what you think. This is many months of hard work coming to life!