Thursday, August 9, 2018

Why People Don't Like Ashtanga Yoga?


Yoga is very popular and it is the top choice on the fitness market today. However, we witness decrease of popularity of Ashtanga yoga. You may see cancellations of Ashtanga classes in yoga studios more often than some other type of yoga be it classic Hatha poses, Hot Yoga's sweaty sessions in a heated studios or any hybrid of Vinyasa yoga. Ashtanga yoga retreats are among the most unpopular and are often cancelled or changed to some other yoga styles.


Lack of Good Ashtanga Yoga Teachers?

The orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists and chiropractors in North America are increasingly dealing with the ashtanga yoga practitioners which practice has gone awry.

The increase of injuries in ashtanga yoga practice are blamed on the lack of good teachers. Almost everyone with 200 hours teachers training program can and certainly teach ashtanga yoga with poor understanding of the practice itself. Such teachers are badly trained, inexperienced and overzealous and that cause a lot of problems for the students.

A yoga student from England observed it well: "I was at an Ashtanga yoga class and in a posture where you really twist your spine. My teacher came to adjust me in the pose and really pushed me into it. It felt really uncomfortable at the time and it got worse afterwards. It was so painful that I went to the doctor and he told me that I'd bruised a rib."

Very often the students are uncertain about questioning yoga teacher. When you're in the middle of a class it's really difficult to say that something hurts. Ashtanga yoga teachers are known to be quite forceful characters and they assume they know what they are doing.

Let me digress a bit, not all ashtanga yoga teachers are forceful, inexperienced and overzealous. But in general, there is no legislation that dictates standards for teaching ashtanga yoga. It is loyalty of visiting Mysore, being in good terms with Sharath and the practice itself that, seems to me, determine certified ashtanga yoga teacher. They are extremely rare and students are left with 200 hours teacher trainees devoid from the understanding of student psychology, anatomy and most of all the humility as a human being that make up the right credentials for anyone wanted to be a yoga teacher.

Is Ashtanga Really Bad Practice?

Arddha Baddha Padmottanasana, Janu sirsansana C, Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottonasana just to name some of the knee-dangerous asanas that have been injuring students due to stubborn attempts to get into the pose with a no-pain-no-gain attitude.

I’ve heard from and worked with a number of physical therapy (physiotherapy) patients who suffered MCL, LCL or other knee injuries that began in their Ashtanga practice. Usually, this was from a Mysore-style practice, sometimes from teacher adjustments. I’ve also fielded many email inquiries from students about Ashtanga and knee pain. - Dr. Ariele Foster, Yoga Anatomy Academy

Ashtanga Yoga practice is very hard, physically demanding and so dangerous for anyone who cannot do lotus properly. It is so often connected with things like knee-pain and inflammation. The knee is most vulnerable when it is bent with an external rotation of the hip when the front of the thigh moves to the outside of the hip.

Generally speaking, one of the most vulnerable components of Ashtanga yoga is repeated pressure on the lateral knee ligaments since the practice sequence repeats almost daily. For the students who are not so flexible, the practice can cause the repetitive stress syndrome.

Regarding Astanga being a balanced practice, the first series (primary) has a lot of forwarding folding in it. The vinyasas become the counterpose and are peppered through the practice. But this works solely in the Sagittal plane. Some dedicated and skilled Astanga teachers are increasingly questioning the balance of the series in light of growing scientific knowledge, and encouraging variations, making up their own sequences sometimes. – Ruth H., yoga therapy practitioner, trained in Ashtanga Yoga

What About Ashtanga Yoga Students? 

Can they help themselves by taking responsibility for their own practice?

Over the years, I have learned that Ashtanga Yoga is not defined as the mastery of asanas although for many, many practitioners the goal of Ashtanga is binding the hands in Marichyasana D in order to progress through primary series or standing up from a backbend in order to move to intermediate series.

Frankly speaking, goals like this are very harmful. I just like many other practitioners will never be able to bind in Marichyasana D. People will compromise their knees in order to get into the posture. So Marichyasana D becomes the source of a medial meniscus tear.

As Pattabhi Jois used to say, “Health will result from good yoga, ill-health will result from bad yoga.” Clearly, the goal-oriented Ashtanga practice is bad yoga.

Ashtanga yoga is not like getting on a treadmill and start running with constant acceleration. It requires mindfulness and understanding of it's flexibility and strength. Recognize pain that isn't good and continue or stop if you need to. Ashtanga is not a competitive practice and there is no reason to force yourself into a painful pose.

No doubt about it, there is a high level of risk for injury in ashtanga yoga and the practitioners so often forget that yoga is a lifetime practice. More than that, it's a spiritual practice. The physical benefits come with it, but if you're only interested in getting fit, then go to the gym.

It’s Lonely Being An Ashtangi.

There is this “lonely” feeling of ashtanga yoga. The practice definitely calls for lifestyle changes, an inwardness look and life-introspection. The ashtanga eight limbs are so close to self-inquiry.

The loneliest part of ashtanga is being the one of few who early in the morning roll out the mat each day. In such practice there is no teacher telling you what to do and what are you left to focus on. The breath is all that you have and of course your thoughts...

You feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time.  That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warrior ship. ~ Chogyam Trungpa

Ashtanga is not about strength so much as it is about keeping attention on breath and strong core... mula bandha. Only daily practice and endless repetition builds the strength very slowly. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

...Perhaps it is just the type of people whom Ashtanga attracts. Slightly lonerish Type As? Of course there is the ultimate “lonely” part of Ashtanga: the home practice. I assume other yogis practice at home, but I don’t feel like there is quite the same  emphasis on such a practice... Even Mysore practice is “lonely.” Sure, you are in a room with a bunch of people, but you are all doing your own thing... - Steve, The Confluence Countdown

Ashtanga Yoga Is a Spiritual Practice!

Can you practice yoga without spiritual goal on your mind? I don't know.


Ronald said that some people do yoga and are "solely interested in asana...". I believe this might be true but on another hand what is the life about? Is the main goal in life to gain self-actualization or so popularly called, enlightenment?

What you actually do when you step on the yoga mat, knowing that or not, is that you search for Your Natural State. It is a state of great sensitivity of being awake, not some kind of emotional compassion or tenderness for others. I digress, yes, there is compassion only in the sense that there are no 'others' for you, and so there is no separation.

Whenever you step on the mat, you are actually interested in Moksha, Liberation, Freedom, Transformation, you name it, and you are interested in happiness without one moment of unhappiness, pleasure without pain, it is the same thing.

The Ashtanga yoga practice creates the experience, and the experience strengthens practice. The practitioner is nothing but the practice. That is really what's going on.

Practicing Ashtanga yoga, which is boring, dull and hard, does not allow you creativity and wishful thinking. It calls for a complete and total surrender. It is the practice of hopelessness which says that there is no way out... Asana, breath, drishti and vynasas are taking you away from yourself...



Share Share on Facebook Tweet Share on Google+

like on facebook
Most Popular:
Recent: