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Customizing Your Practice Is The 7th Series

Duration: 32:04
In this podcast I discuss the evolution of your ashtanga yoga practice. What happens down the road, when you are years or decades into your sadhana? There are many clear rules that get you started such as practicing 6 days a week or learning a series one posture at a time. The most talked about or
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In this podcast I discuss the evolution of your ashtanga yoga practice. What happens down the road, when you are years or decades into your sadhana? There are many clear rules that get you started such as practicing 6 days a week or learning a series one posture at a time. The most talked about or emphasized ashtanga practice tenets can serve you well for many years. But sooner or later there comes a time when you need more or different or further guidance.

At some point just getting on your mat each day and unvaryingly trying your best to go through your series in strict order ceases to nourish or heal or give you the same potent benefits as before. You even begin to find that you are harming yourself by trying to do what you did before. And you can become sad about it—sad that what was so inspiring and helpful before has changed. You can also become angry at the prospect of having to change and having to leave behind the known. There is much to be gained by knowing exactly what you are going to do. Strictly adhering to the series gives you security and certainty and teaches you to build amazing heat, skill, and mastery.

But all things, the good as well as the bad, end whether you like it or not practice long enough and you will come to a dead end, an impassible impasse, you will not be able to do what you have been doing. The title ‘Customizing your ashtanga practice is the 7th series’ comes from the idea that your ashtanga yoga practice begins a new and essential chapter when you take what you’ve learned and begin to work with a more individual, creative, and practical application of the hatha yoga technology that makes up ashtanga.

The decision to allow yourself to customize your practice marks a significant new beginning point in your ashtanga evolution. It’s as though all the time you’ve spent dutifully repeating, faithfully putting your time in, going through each painstaking jump back and jump, doing that same series in that same order has been preparing for a major leap into the unknown. By taking the view that customizing is part of the evolution of your ashtanga practice you can drop sadness or anger, stop feeling guilty or thinking that you are doing something wrong because you are not following the sequences in strict order. The reality is you go wrong when you fail to take control of and develop independence in practice. The rules of ashtanga are meant to teach you how to thrive in a wider asana world beyond those rules. The practice you’ve been doing is training wheels, scaffolding that you must release to find the freedom to ride in space. The rules of ashtanga prepare you well, they give you healthy parameters that help you to go to unknown places internally and externally—unknown postural, energetic, and psychic places –places that no one has ever gone—places that are meant to be discovered by you and only you—places that no person or system could lead you to.

I offer this podcast because there is far too little acknowledgement of, discussion about or instruction in what happens later in your practice-- as time passes and you gain experience, skill, and knowledge. What happens later is what I am calling the 7th series. I call it this because your custom practice is just as valid and part of ashtanga as all the other series. Honor and celebrate the new, more independent, individual way that you will eventually practice—then you’ll know that your daily practice can thrive and continue to evolve no matter how old you are or despite other limits that may be imposed on you. You can choose to do a practice that suits you and is rooted in the hatha yoga techniques that you have been doing all along and have come to love.
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