Can Beginners Practice Astanga Vinyasa Yoga???

By Beri Golding YES! Astanga Vinyasa yoga is kind of the grand-daddy of the power/flow yoga worlds of modern day. Astanga however is a pre formatted style practice (which for beginners can in fact be a comforting component. It frees us from anticipation which allows us to be present in the practice in addition to offering an opportunity to really examine how the practice develops and shifts from day to day). I frequently tell my students the story that my teacher, Dave Oliver, told us about the infancy stage of his yoga practice. Upon expressing interest in astanga yoga, Dave’s teacher, Anthony “Prem” Carlisi advised Dave to observe class for about two weeks. After that, Dave was encouraged to participate in the practice. When he got to a pose that he could not do, that is where his practice for the day ended. He continued to practice the poses that he could access until ultimately they opened the gates to the poses that at first seemed unattainable. One of K.Pattabhi Jois most notable quotes is: “do your practice and all is coming.” Essentially, it is the reminder that yoga is not to be perfected, instead of emphasizing mastering the poses, we focus on mastering the breath, in essence, practice is progress. The Astanga vinyasa system that we have come to know and love is rooted within the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya. At one point, his students at a Sanskrit College in India were much like modern day hopeful yogi’s- athletic, able bodied, ambitious young men. Therefore, he designed sequences intended to challenge them and satisfy their interest in building strength and physical fitness. His students were only allowed to graduate to the more advanced poses upon demonstrating a well established connection with the foundational postures. This traditional policy calls for a willingness to be patient, to look beyond the physical pose and find deeper meaning within the practice as a comprehensive program to strengthening more than just our bodies but also our understanding of ourselves. It also offers insight on his teaching style-pragmatic and adaptive to fit the collective profile of his students. Realize as a student you do not need to adapt to the profile of your teacher or your teachers teaching style. Well informed instructors will undoubtedly be able to support your practice and progress. Astanga Vinyasa yoga is the ultimate introduction to yoga because it is so firmly rooted within the depths of the yogic tradition. While the practice might look different than its ancient predecessor, the purpose is pure and timeless. Beginners who are maybe intimidated by the discipline or rigorous nature of Astanga practice are encouraged to find a credible teacher and practice….(and all is coming):) Check out Matt Rulli’s Intro to Astanga on Thursday nights at 6pm at the studio for an informative experience to get your feet wet!

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