Ashtanga yoga is a challenging and invigorating activity that leaves you feeling more flexible, stronger and more serene. It is a demanding yoga practice that gives you a cardio workout while allowing you to stay tuned into your physical and mental needs and limitations. Here are three ways to enhance your ashtanga yoga routine:
1. Study with a Certified Ashtanga Yoga Instructor
While it is possible to practice ashtanga yoga at home with a DVD or in a self-directed way, to enhance your practice, seek out a certified ashtanga yoga instructor. This is important for two reasons. Most importantly, an instructor can provide corrections in alignment and positioning. This is important to ensure that you are protected from injury. It is possible while practicing yoga to feel as though your body is positioned properly when, in fact, it is not. A quality instructor will make necessary adjustments and encourage you to stretch deeper or work harder when it is clear you have not reached your limits.
Secondly, practicing in a yoga studio with others present will encourage and energize you. The goal is not to be in competition with others. Being in the same room with others, however, can push you to explore your limits. You may be holding back and not challenging yourself enough when at home. Being around others who are practicing the same movements will allow you to get a glimpse of the possibilities for yourself for the day that you are more advanced.
2. Practice Ashtanga Yoga Regularly
One of the best ways to enhance your ashtanga yoga routine is to attend class regularly. It is difficult to progress quickly in this form of yoga when practicing only every once in a while. When you attend five or six times per week, you will feel enlivened by your own progress. The stronger you become, the more flexibility you achieve, the more stamina you gain and the more engaged you will become.
3. Challenge Yourself to Stay Present
At the core of all forms of yoga is the cultivation of self-awareness, spiritual growth and staying present in the moment. When you practice ashtanga yoga, challenge yourself to stay present in every moment. While you breathe, while you transition from posture to posture and in the moments when your body does not want to do what the instructor is asking, these are all moments where you can consciously stay present and gain awareness of how you’re feeling.
Stay with any emotions that come up in the middle of your ashtanga yoga practice. Frustration, confusion, anger and similar emotions tend to come up for some people while practicing yoga. The challenging postures and mental discipline required to practice yoga may cause aggravation for you. Acknowledging these emotions as they come up will help you to release them. This way, your ashtanga yoga practice is enlivening for your mind, body and spirit.