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June 14, 2010 / Gabriel Azoulay

DVD insight

The practice of Ashtanga traditionally is learned in a Mysore style, where the teacher provides the practitioner with a new pose every time the students has achieved a certain level of proficiency in the preceding posture. In such a way, as much as each series prepares the body for the next series, so each posture educates, opens, and prepares the body for the next posture.

Often this preparation is forgotten in today’s ashtanga classes, where students are practicing the entire primary or secondary series without having a daily practice.

This intense teaching and practice, while invigorating in its own right, leaves the nervous system and the over all structure unbalanced and overly energized. Often this enhanced flow of energy causes injury rather than strength, health, and long term practice.

The First or Primary Series is called in sanskrit “Chikitsa Bhaga“. This translates as the curative or therapeutic section. The intent of this series is to first prepare the way. To remove the obstructions structurally, organically, emotionally and mentally thus enabling the practitioner to move on to the higher forms of yogic practice. This series clears out nervous and physical build up in the bones and muscles, prepares the connective tissue for enhanced circulation of physical and energetic fluids, as well as cultivates the strength and balance needed in order to flow through the practice without interruption, as is seen in these DVDs.

The Second Series is labeled “Nadi Sodan,” which translates as nerve or channel purification. The Second or Intermediate Series builds on the skills learned in the First, or Primary Series. It is only after a certain degree of mastery of the Primary Series that a student is taught the Intermediate Series. The postures of Second Series are added “one-by-one”, in the words of Pattabhi Jois, to the practice of First Series. As a student gains proficiency in the new postures more are added until the entire new series is learned. In fact this is the method of progression in all the series of Ashtanga yoga. Progress is based on the ability of each student.

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