Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Doing something for myself: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

I've always wanted to learn Ashtanga yoga. So when my teacher Erika (Oasis Holistic) said that her son was starting an introduction to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, I signed up for it straight away.

I've never been so sorely tested in my entire life as a yogi. I've done six lessons so far, once every day, and I've got five more to go--all starting at 6.20am. After lesson #3, I wanted to give up. I really did. But partly because I paid up for all 11 lessons and because I really want to get fit again, I dragged my aching body for lesson #4. I didn't regret it.

More about the experience some other day when I'm not so drained. (And I've to wake up at 5.30am for tomorrow's practice!) Until then, here's a brief, layman's overview of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga:

1. This style of yoga is characterized by a focus on vinyasa, or a dynamic connecting posture, that creates a flow between the more static traditional yoga postures. Vinyasa translates as linking and the system also implies the linking of the movement to the breath.

2. The purpose of viṅyāsa is to create heat in the body, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating. It also improves flexibility, as well as tendon and hard tissue strength, allowing the student to practice advanced āsanas with reduced risk of injury.

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