- Practice on an empty stomach! Leave at least 3-4 hours after a large meal and practicing. If you feel like, you can drink small quantities of water or herbal tea before beginning the practice. Do not drink water while practicing or immediately after finishing it. Wait at least half an hour before drinking. If your throat is dry, a small sip of water will do, your saliva is enough to prevent the feeling of dryness in the throat.
- Evacuate bowels and bladder before practicing. Sun salutations, standing postures and inverted postures will improve bowels functioning. If you suffer from a cold, flue or indigestion, we suggest one day of abstinence from food; it will make the body more flexible. Excessive eating hinders the correct practice of asanas.
- Wear comfortable, stretchy clothes, with a close fit, preferably in natural, non-synthetic fibers which facilitate transpiration and sweat absorption. Remove any necklaces, watches, rings, etc.. Be bare-footed, you can wear socks during relaxation.
- Be ready to sweat abundantly. We suggest to massage your sweat back into the skin rather than drying it with a towel. Do not be afraid of sweating and feeling tired, focus your attention on breathing. The synchronization of breathing and movement will create new energy, eliminating any weariness and strengthening both the mind and the body.
- Do not struggle too much with postures or during any movements; do not contract muscles, they should be tonic but also relaxed. Try to keep your face relaxed and do not put any anger or frustration onto your body. Yoga is an opportunity to work on your emotions rather than a way to deny them and project them outside
- Being aware of your breathing is fundamental for a correct practice of the asanas. The practice of Ashtanga Yoga requires a breathing technique known as Ujjay. The throat must be relaxed and the glottis must be gently contracted, so that air will produce a sound during inhalation and exhalation. When practicing Ujjayi breathing, the breathing should be smooth, deep and strong. A deep exhalation will finish below the navel (belly button) and a deep inhalation will expand the back, the lumbar region, the chest around the diaphragm, filling the heart area.
- Drishti – in Sanskrit it means “gaze”, that is the looking place. Drishti is very important for a correct practice of yoga. The focus and breathing are strictly connected with the direction of the gaze. For every posture and movements between one posture and the following one there is a specific looking place. The gaze can be orientated towards: the nose tip, between eyebrows (third eye), navel (belly button), feet, fingertips, up to the sky, far left or right. Drishti encourages to find a balance and after some years of practice has a relaxing effect on the body and the mind. The approach to drishti should be progressive. It requires great efforts especially at the beginning and can cause some headache.
- Bandha – in Sanskrit it means locks. Mula-bandha and Uddyana-bandha are engaged during the practice. Mula-bandha is a contraction of the anus which involves the contraction of the middle of the perineum and of the genitals. Uddyana-bandha requires the engagement of the abdominal muscles towards the spine, obtained by pushing the root of the navel towards the kidneys. It prevents the lowering of the abdominal organs and allows the full expansion of the diaphragm. Mula-bandha and Uddyana-bandha are fundamental in the practice of asanas and pranayama in the Ashtanga Yoga system. It may require many years of practice to completely master the bandhas.
- The movements linking one posture to the following one are very important. They are part of the practice, since they integrate the Vinyasa system with the asanas. The way you enter and exit each posture is an integral part of the form. In the Vinyasa system inhalation and exhalation are synchronized to a specific movement of the sequence. Breathing is the heart of this yoga discipline and links asana to asana in a precise order.
- The precise order of the asanas has a precise rationale. . Each posture or group of postures has a specific effect which is balanced or counterbalanced by another posture or another group of postures. This is crucial to accumulate the positive effects of the asanas and to protect and balance the body during the practice. For these reasons we strongly recommend not to skip asanas or jump from one asana to another without following the sequence. Following the correct Vinyasa, you will make very quick progress in your practice.
- In the Vinyasa system taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the postures are combined in different series, which vary according to their difficulty and effects. The primary series (Yoga Chikitsa) is therapeutic and effects the body alignment, giving balance to the body and the mind. The Intermediate Series (Nadi Sodhana) complements the first series but has deeper effects. This series opens the Nadi, the energy channels transmitting the nervous impulses. The advanced series A-B-C-D (Sthira Bhaga) have a deeper effect, making the body steadier, stronger, more balanced and open.
- It is very important to take the relaxation at the end of the practice and it should always be taken. We recommend to cover your body during relaxation. This phase is important to take the body back to a normal state after the practice that produced an intense heat in the whole body. If you do not relax after your practice, you may feel sensitive and tired.
- Ashtanga yoga is intended to be a daily practice, It may be very difficult at first to commit to a daily practice, and it often takes some time to get the body and the mind used to this discipline. Traditionally, we practice every day except for Saturdays and Full Moon and New Moon Days,
- Women should not practice inverted asanas during days of menstruation and, if you practice daily, we suggest to rest in the first days of the cycle.
- The practice of Ashtanga Yoga is effective in improving health conditions. Vinyasa, if correctly practiced, has an extraordinary effect on our physical and mental state. Thanks to the specific benefits it has on the organs involved, practicing asanas helps to solve problems linked to rigidity or wrong postural behaviors such as backache, cervical pain etc. In case of specific clinical conditions, the practice can be adapted to the student, so that he or she can enjoy the benefits and slowly begin to work also on those parts of the body which shows greater limitations.