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Parivrrta Trikonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Paschimottanasana 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 in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya, in which 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.

I made my final decision for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as the third limb of Ashtanga Yoga (also: Raja Yoga) in 2006 after meeting Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) in Denmark. His entire lifework, his aura and his social being inspired me deeply. In my classes and in my devotion to Ashtanga Yoga I want to pay homage to his lifework. Speaking in the words of the opening mantra: I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru!

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. In earlier days the physical and goal-orientated practice was very important to me, but nowadays I see the way itself and the devotion to it as the true essence of yoga.

Four years after my first sun salutation I opened my own yoga studio. Since then I teach my students the essence of the 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. The steady and dedicated practice of these elements leads to a wonderful energetic cognition and concentration as well as a deep realization (Samadhi). One of the most important guidelines: 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. The groundwork of my teaching comes from the several series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. 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 taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. 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!

"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 ashtanga yoga."

(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, 1915-2009)

Guruji Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

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