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Parivrrta Trikonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Paschimottanasan C

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana

Marichyasana D

Baddha Konasana

Setu Bandhasana

Karna Pidasana

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ASHTANGA AND CHRIS

 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a popular hatha yoga system based on Patanjali´s sutras and the Yoga Korunta. The oldest known teacher is T. Krishnamacharya, he passed his knowledge on to several teachers, such as T.K.V. Desikachar, B.K.S Iyengar or K. Pattabhi Jois.

While practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga we are guided by our breath and dynamically switch positions (asanas). This allows us to work with our bodies on an energetic level. But Ashtanga Yoga is way more than what we can actually see and practice on our mats: literally translated it means "eight limbs". Some of them are visible, others can be physically felt and some lie beneath our imagination. The asanas only describe the third limb.

It would have never come up to my mind that Ashtanga Yoga would accompany me for so long when I first got in touch with it. In these days I worked as an aerobic and fitness trainer and had to be persuaded to take part in a yoga class. I left the familiar area of weights and exhausting fitness classes, and stepped onto the mat. The physical part of yoga got me right away and in the weeks and months after my first class I implemented more and more yoga elements into my fitness classes. This way my participants and I received the benefits of the asanas. I also slipped into the role of being a student more often and gained knowledge on the mat. This was back in the years 2004/2005.

But this was only the beginning of a long journey. I was curious about the other limbs of Ashtanga Yoga – everything that was waiting there besides the asanas. My travels through the south-east of Asia as well as my enthusiastic reading of Patanjali´s sutras and several other books about Ashtanga Yoga got me deeper into the world of yoga. I learned a lot about the effects, values, the philosophy and meanings of Ashtanga. But the interaction of the practice taught me the biggest part: the interaction between me as a student and the teachers all around the world on one hand; between me as a teacher and all my students on the other hand and especially by deeply interacting with my inner self. The physical and goal-focused practice was very important to me in earlier days, but nowadays I recognize the way itself and the devotion to it as the true essence of Ashtanga Yoga. Four years after my first sun salutation I opened my own yoga studio.

Since then I teach my students the essence of the Ashtanga Yoga system: the merge of asanas, bandhas (energy locks) and drishtis (gazing points) called tristana. Nevertheless it is very important for me to implement the other limbs as well.

I certainly want to distinguish Ashtanga Yoga from 'Jois-Yoga'. As a student and as a teacher I always questioned a system, that asks for a total dedication towards one person (Guru). My doubts got verified strongly after the post-mortem stories of K. Pattabhi Jois, revealing his inappropriate and traumatic actions against some of his students. I can’t emphasize enough that the quintessence of Ashtanga Yoga is not based or found in one person or institution, but in the eight limbs themselves, so in each one of us.

The steady and dedicated practice of the eight limbs (Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi) leads to a wonderful energetic cognition and concentration as well as a deep realization of the inner self. Remember: 99% practice and 1% theory.

Mysore style teaching is the traditional way of guiding a class and it’s one of the basic elements in my classes as well: everybody practices in their own pace, in individually adapted intensity and range. But most importantly I accompany my students on their own path (yoga). They receive individual adjustments, assistance and support and I guide them deeper into their practice gradually. Newbies and advanced practitioners are practicing together in one class, which creates a unique energetic and social atmosphere.

Looking back I can’t only see the students transform, it is also me as a teacher who is transforming continuously. My own understanding of my role as a teacher as well as the way I teach changed tremendously. I would have described myself as a traditional yoga teacher in earlier times, especially in the beginning of my teachings, sticking hard to the tradition of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Nowadays I would describe myself as an accompanist, an initiator or supporter of many individual paths. I keep the tradition in mind, but I am focusing on individuality first.

Om namah shivaya!

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