How to Develop a Personal Practice
Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois is a devotional daily practice, and is often practiced in the morning. This is the time most suitable for the rigors of the practice, and is closest to the time of day (Brahma Muhurta). Later in the day our thoughts can cloud our ability to practice without distraction. Since Ashtanga Yoga can be very demanding, there are opportunities in the morning to “look” at what your mind does while you practice. Ashtanga Yoga is nearly universally accepted as a morning practice, and as a result we offer morning Mysore classes to the public in the traditional fashion without practice on full or new moon days.
Traditionally, a practitioner was encouraged to take one day off per week as a rest day, in addition to taking new and full moon days off. Our practice location allows you to choose whatever day off you would like, by carrying on classes each day (we teachers often opt for Monday, as it works with our schedules). It is common for people to take Saturdays off, which is fine, but it is okay to practice at Bellingham Yoga School and take a different day off, other than Saturday.
Learning Ashtanga Yoga can be a challenge at first, and the results can be mixed. All practitioners should be careful when selecting a yoga teacher. There is a great deal of confusion about this topic. Currently, Ashtanga Yoga has authorized and certified teachers, who have studied in Mysore, India. At the very least, your teacher should be able to identify where, within the lineage, his or her studies originated from; if they cannot do this, you are probably best not learning there.
Ashtanga Yoga is best practiced continuously throughout the life of the aspirant. It is not good to start the practice and stop again. It is in the best interests of the practitioner to continue steadily, no matter how limited the asanas may be. Keeping up with your practice can be what defines your practice. It could be said that your progress in Ashtanga can be measured, if at all, by your consistency of practice over a long period of time (Yoga Sutra 1:14).
Yoga, in general, is heavily steeped in Samkyha philosophy, an ancient eastern philosophy that predates most of the Eastern Religious traditions that utilize it. While Samkyha itself is non-theistic, it has not hindered its incredible intellectually satisfying prowess from becoming the root of more religiously oriented dogmas. While Ashtanga Yoga practice has very little to do with any kind of religion, its place of origin certainly connects the practice of yoga to what is now called Hinduism. It is very important to practitioners of Ashtanga Yoga, and teachers of the art, that it remain separate from any religion, as it was intended by the great masters of yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is not a religion.