After standing poses comes a series of seated poses. Again, you will take these on a little at a time continuing to memorize the sequence as you go. In the seated poses there is a vinyasa between almost every pose. I have been calling the practice Ashtanga Yoga, but the full name is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. “Vinyasa” is basically a Surynamaskar A except you hold down dog for only one breath and then jump or step forward and sit down. In the resource area I have included a link to my favorite cheat sheet for learning where the vinyasas go.
Eventually, you will learn more and more poses and know when to breathe and where to do vinyasas and how to make bandhas. At some point you will have at least tried all the poses. Maybe you didn’t do them all in one day, but you will at least know, in concept, how each pose is performed. The series is meant to be done from beginning to end without stopping. There is a class called “Primary Led” offered in Ashtanga yoga studios, often on a Saturday morning, that you should have a goal to attend. You might not do the whole series the first times you go. It is ok to sit and observe at first if you don’t know what to do or can’t do what is being done. You can and should always modify poses to fit your body and what you have learned so far when you are in a Primary Led class.
I remember the first time I went all the way through the series in a Primary Led class during teacher training. My teacher had invited me to practice next to her. I had injured my left big toenail. I had to modify a lot to accommodate my toe and my teacher was with me to demonstrate a modification if I needed it. At the end of that class, she congratulated me and said, “You did it! Your first time doing the whole Primary series is a big deal!” At the time, it didn’t seem like a really big deal. I had built up to it over time. It had taken me more than two years since my first Ashtanga class. Looking back, I realize she was right. It was a day to mark and celebrate.
Ashtanga Yoga Limbs 7 and 8
The last two limbs are
- Dyhana- Meditation
- Samadhi-Spirituality or connection to the Divine.
In my religious life I have always heard that to gain answers to questions I should “study God’s word, ponder or meditate and pray”. There is a practice to meditation—to calm my own thoughts and seek some deeper wisdom to surface. As I have done seated meditations (which for me are often prostrate or “shavasana” meditations) I have learned to clear my own thoughts more and more. Many times I have added silent prayer to my practice especially during and after shavasana. I have felt a divine presence with me in such personal ways that I treasure them in my heart and seldom share such personal sacred experiences. Yoga has only enhanced this part of my life.
There are formal ways of learning meditation.