Since I started my loving relationship with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga I have been exploring and studying this yoga system day in and day out. It is not always easy but extremely rewarding and uplifting. The more I dig deeper into this practice, the more I find it to be a beautiful and greatly working system.

Now I am not saying that everybody should do it, but whoever feels attracted to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga should give it a try and experience for themselves if it works for them. And in case you are thinking about starting but still doubting, here are some reasons why I personally love the Ashtanga Yoga practice:

A daily Yoga practice is like brushing your teeth, a daily ritual that makes you smile widely for the rest of the day

Anything that we wanna do on a daily basis should be set up as a ritual. Too often we leave things that are important to us on how we feel. And then oftentimes it is not happening because the mind finds (totally reasonable) excuses. When setting the practice up as a daily ritual, there is no question if but just how (intense or soft, long or short) we practice. Pretty much like brushing your teeth – you just do it!

Supta KurmasanaIn addition, the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice for me is very efficient: In those 30 to 90 minutes I get a workout that keeps my body strong and flexible, I focus and free my mind, work on mindfulness and compassion with myself while being present in the moment and breathe deeply fueling the whole body with energy for the rest of the day.

A morning Yoga practice gives me a great feeling of already having accomplished something (isn’t it all about celebrating the small wins?). And – what can seriously upset you or bring you out of balance after having attempted your ultimate pretzel pose in the morning? 

The Yoga practice leaves me feeling grounded, blissful and happy

I do not exactly know if it is the continuous  focus on deep breathing, all those strong movements or just the grounding feeling of being present, but my Yoga practice leaves me in a better state, physically and mentally. And this ability to uplift myself through practicing yoga is one of the main reasons for having sustained a daily practice for years. Because if we do not enjoy the resulting feeling of a practice, we either quit soon or eventually have to change our approach to it.

The Yoga practice adapts to my daily condition while making sure I am not lazy

While practicing in a Mysore Class, I keep working and developing my very own practice. The Ashtanga Vinyasa System that is practiced in Mysore classes is a set sequence of Yoga asanas. Everybody – each at their own pace and according to their physical ability – is (supposedly) doing the exact same breath-initiated movements or vinyasas, not changing or skipping anything in the sequence. Yet, we can and should adapt the length and intensity of practice to the the amount of strength, flexibility and endurance available, to existing health issues and proportions of our bodies. In that way, even with the same sequence of asanas, every practice is different and just what I need on that particular day. And to make sure I am working hard enough, there is a teacher in class ensuring I give the best I can while my inner wisdom tells me how much is enough.

The Ashtanga Vinyasa system encourages with progress while inspiring me to discover more and dig deeper

Since I started to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, I was always amazed by the progress I made within a short period of time. But every bit of progress came with the realization, that there is an even more advanced way of approaching a certain asana. For example, the first time I managed to get up into headstand, my teacher told me to now try coming up with straight legs. And there is always the next asana that seems totally out of reach for the body… until you master also this one (read here how to get unstuck in your Yoga practice)! And then you realize that while chasing all those crazy asanas, it is not about mastering the pose but about everything you learn on the way. Because the idea of wanting to achieve a certain goal inspires us to study, practice, dig deeper and learn all we need to know to get what we aspire.

urdhva dhanurasana

For example you might think you are working on dropping back from standing into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Without even knowing it, you learn how to adjust your balance, get to know your body’s anatomy (there are so many body parts that have to work in unison in this pose), learn how to trust in yourself (not only is my body able to do it, but do I actually trust it to be able), work on opening your heart and other blocked areas (which usually brings up plenty of unresolved issues to deal with) and finally to let go (you do have to fall backwards!).

I am part of a community with really awesome people

I am not saying that Ashtangis are all awesome, I am saying that all people are awesome. In Mysore classes you just really see it coming out. Everybody is determined, everybody shows up each day again to work on themselves, facing their very own challenges, dealing with whatever comes up and exposing their strengths and weaknesses to themselves. And even though everyone is focused on their own breath and movement, beginners and advanced yogis practicing mat on mat, a great common energy is created and shared, including plenty of laughter, compassion and bonding!

This arcticle was originally published on my blog

Tom Richter
Tom Richter

𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒷𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓉𝒽, 𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒 Breathing & Movement Teacher ︴Ashtanga Therapy ︴Pranayama