Ashtanga Yoga Myths
There are some misleading myths circulating about Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga discouraging people from taking on the practice. We always stress the importance of keeping the practice clean and connected to the roots and at the same time make it accessible for more people. I do believe that Ashtanga Yoga has gotten a reputation of being something it is not and maybe we can help clarify a little by looking at some of the myths.
ASHTANGA YOGA IS POWER YOGA
This is a letter from Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois (the guru of Ashtanga Yoga) to Yoga Journal, Nov. 1995.
“I was disappointed to find that so many novice students have taken Ashtanga yoga and have turned it into a circus for their own fame and profit (Power Yoga, Jan/Feb 1995). The title “Power Yoga” itself degrades the depth, purpose and method of the yoga system that I received from my guru, Sri. T. Krishnamacharya. Power is the property of God. It is not something to be collected for one’s ego. Partial yoga methods out of line with their internal purpose can build up the “six enemies” (desire, anger, greed, illusion, infatuation and envy) around the heart. The full ashtanga system practiced with devotion leads to freedom within one’s heart. The Yoga Sutra II.28 confirms this “Yogaanganusthanat asuddiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakhyateh”, which means “practicing all the aspects of yoga destroys the impurities so that the light of knowledge and discrimination shines”. It is unfortunate that students who have not yet matured in their own practice have changed the method and have cut out the essence of an ancient lineage to accommodate their own limitations. The Ashtanga yoga system should never be confused with “power yoga” or any whimsical creation which goes against the tradition of the many types of yoga shastras (scriptures). It would be a shame to lose the precious jewel of libiration in the mud of ignorant body building”
ASHTANGA YOGA IS FOR 12-YEAR OLD BOYS
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said:
Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice yoga.
So everyone who is not lazy can become an “Ashtangi”, which is good news.
YOU CAN NOT MODIFY OR CHANGE THE SEQUENCE IN ASHTANGA YOGA
Ashtanga Yoga has a set series of postures, meant to be taught and learned in a sequential fashion – according to the individual. That’s right: according to the individual Sri K. Pattabhi Jois takes this idea of individualized teaching a step further by stating: “Some asanas are not suitable for particular people and may be painful. A Guru will understand this and be able to explain it, so the practitioner of yoga must be certain to follow his guidance.” (Yoga Mala, p. 30) With other words are modifications of certain postures helpful to make the sequence suited for individual needs. We found the myths in blogs published at the Ashtanga Yoga Workshop and from Ashtanga Dispatch with a few of the myths lined out we though it was a good thing to repost them on our site for more exposure. Namaste